18 Kinds of RED Wildflowers in North Carolina (w/Pics)

Did you find a RED wildflower in North Carolina?

Types of red wildflowers in North Carolina

If so, I’m sure you’re wondering what type of wildflower you found! Luckily, you can use this guide to help you identify it. ūüôā

 

Please be aware that I’m ONLY listing the most common red wildflowers today. There are so many species, varieties, and subspecies that it would be impossible to name them all. But if you want to dive even deeper into ALL the red wildflowers in North Carolina, check out this field guide!

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Today, we will look at 18 RED wildflowers you can find in North Carolina.


#1. Indian Paintbrush

  • Castilleja coccinea

Also known as: Scarlet Indian Paintbrush, Scarlet Paintbrush, Scarlet Painted-cup

Red wildflowers in North Carolina

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8
  • Life Cycle: Biennial or Annual
  • Approximate Mature Size: 4-36 in (10-91 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun

 

Indian Paintbrush is a hemiparasite, which means it feeds on the nutrients of other plants instead of creating nutrients through photosynthesis. Its most common hosts are grasses and sagebrush. To collect the nutrients, this red wildflower in North Carolina must attach its roots to the roots of its host.

 

Because of its parasitic nature, Indian Paintbrush can be hard to grow in home gardens and doesn’t transplant well. As a result, it’s commonly found in open fields with other wildflowers and grasses.

 

Interestingly, if you look closely, the red coloring on Indian Paintbrush isn’t the flower, but a part of its leaves called bracts.

 


#2. Columbine

  • Aquilegia canadensis

Also known as: Red Columbine, Wild Columbine, Canadian Columbine, Jack-In-Trousers, Meeting Houses

North Carolina red wildflowers

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3b-8
  • Life Cycle: Perennial or Biennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 6-48 in (15-122 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Sun Exposure: Partial Shade to Full Sun

 

You might be more familiar with Columbine varieties from Europe that are purple and blue. However, Red Columbine is a native red wildflower in North Carolina! You’re probably looking at Columbine if you spot drooping, bell-like red wildflowers near woodlands.

 

Columbine grows particularly well in gardens or even as a potted plant. Aside from painting your garden with a myriad of colors, the Columbine can attract hummingbirds, bumblebees, and butterflies, which help to pollinate these beauties. Finches and Buntings are also known to eat the seeds!

 

 


#3. Red Trillium

  • Trillium erectum

Also known as: Red Trillium, Stinking Benjamin, Wet Dog Trillium, Purple Trillium

Types of red wildflowers in North Carolina

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4b-7a
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 8-16 in (20-41 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Sun Exposure: Partial Shade to Full Shade

 

This red wildflower is often one of the first to emerge in North Carolina after winter.

 

Its three-petaled flowers bloom briefly and quickly die back. You’re most likely to find Red Trillium in shaded woody areas like forest edges.

 

Red Trillium comes in various red, maroon, purple, yellow, and white shades. It has a distinct and unpleasant odor, like a wet dog, which is where some of its nicknames come from. Although it’s off-putting to humans, this odor is a useful adaptation! It attracts the Carrion Fly and various beetles, which pollinate the plant.

 


#4. Fire Pink

  • Silene virginica

Also known as: Scarlet Catchfly, Cliff Pink, Indian Pink

Red wildflowers in North Carolina

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8a
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 8-36 in (20-91 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Mid Spring to Mid Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Partial Shade

 

Fire Pink is a native, carnivorous red wildflower in North Carolina.

 

Carnivorous plants that trap and eat insects sound like something from a tropical jungle, but we have tons of them in North America! The sticky hairs on its leaves trap prey and discourage ants and other pests from eating the leaves.

 

Fire Pink has five bright red petals that flare out into long tubes. Although this plant is pollinated primarily by hummingbirds, many small songbirds eat its seeds. Juncos, Pine Siskins, Sparrows, Water Pipits, and Horned Larks are all common birds attracted to it.

 


#5. Pitcher Plant

  • Sarracenia purpurea

Also known as: Purple Pitcher Plant, Northern Pitcher Plant

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 8-16 in (20-41 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Mid Spring
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

You might be surprised to know that the Pitcher Plant is carnivorous and can capture a wide range of animals! Although they’re primarily insectivores, frogs, lizards, newts, and even Spotted Salamanders are on the menu.

 

Pitcher plants get their name from goblet-shaped leaves that help them catch their prey. The leaves fill with water, and insects and other small animals fall in and can’t get out. Eventually, the insect drowns, and enzymes made by the plant digest its meal.

 

You can easily distinguish Pitcher Plants by their purple-veined leaves that grow into the shape of a pitcher or cup. The pitchers are about 6 inches (15 cm) long with a large lip. A leafless stalk grows from the middle, and a single reddish-purple flower blooms at the top.

 


#6. Cardinal Flower

  • Lobelia cardinalis

Also known as: Red Bay, Scarlet Lobelia, Indian Pink, Water Gladiole, Slinkweed, Bog Sage, Hog’s Physic

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9a
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 3.6-72 in (9-183 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Mid Summer to Early Fall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

The blooms on this red wildflower in North Carolina cluster on the end of a long stalk. The Cardinal Flower has dark green leaves with purple undersides.

 

If you’re especially fond of hummingbirds, you can use the Cardinal Flower to attract them to your neighborhood. While other insects might find it hard to reach the sweet nectar inside, the tubular flowers are perfect for the long beaks of hummingbirds.

 

Cardinal Flowers grow well in a garden setting. Plant it in an area with partial sun for a beautiful pop of red that will attract hummingbirds!

 


#7. Toadshade Trillium

  • Trillium sessile

Also known as: Red Trillium, Red Wake-robin, Yellow Trillium

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8a
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 4-12 in (10-30 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Mid Spring to Late Spring
  • Sun Exposure: Partial Shade to Full Shade

 

Toadshade Trillium has funnel-shaped flowers. It beautifully carpets landscapes with shades of red, purple, brown, yellow, and green. You might notice a spicy, pungent odor, which the plant uses to attract pollinating flies and beetles.

 

This red wildflower in North Carolina is beloved among gardeners.

 

Its reddish-purple blooms are centered in the middle of the leaves, creating a double-flower effect that looks beautiful when mixed with other plants.

 


#8. Spotted Coralroot

  • Corallorhiza maculata

Also known as: Summer Coralroot, Speckled Coral Root, Many-flowered Coral Root

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 3.9-31 in (10-79 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Early Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Partial Shade to Full Shade

 

This red wildflower is commonly found in wooded areas in North Carolina.

 

The most interesting feature of Spotted Coralroot is that it doesn’t have any leaves! Instead, the bare stalks produce clusters of flowers. Since this plant isn’t capable of photosynthesis, it siphons nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi, which is a natural fungus that occurs in its roots.

 

Mining bees are especially attracted to Spotted Coralroot. Although they pollinate this native orchid, it can also self-pollinate by transferring its pollen as its flower opens.

 


#9. Trumpet Honeysuckle

  • Lonicera sempervirens

Also known as: Scarlet Honeysuckle, Coral Honeysuckle, Honeysuckle, Woodbine

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4b-9a
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 10-20 ft (3-6 m) tall
  • Bloom Time: Mid Spring to Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

Trumpet Honeysuckle attracts birds, butterflies, and bumblebees. Its red, trumpet-shaped flowers are especially attractive to hummingbirds.

 

In addition to pollinators, birds are attracted to this red wildflower in North Carolina because they eat its bright red berries. Purple Finches, Goldfinches, Hermit Thrushes, American Robins, and quails are frequent visitors to Trumpet Honeysuckle vines.

 

It has similar features to the Trumpet Creeper, and many people get the two mixed up. However, a benefit of the Trumpet Honeysuckle is that it’s not as aggressive and does not get as big as the Trumpet Creeper. Because of this, Trumpet Honeysuckle may fit better in your garden.

 


#10. Scarlet Rose Mallow

  • Hibiscus coccineus

Also known as: Red Hibiscus, Wild Red Mallow, Scarlet Hibiscus

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5b-9a
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 4-8 ft. (1-2.4 m) tall
  • Bloom Time: Mid Summer to Early Fall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

The Scarlet Rose Mallow is a favorite among gardeners because of its big, showy crimson flowers. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, butterflies, and Rose Mallow Bees find this plant especially attractive.

 

You’re likely to find this red wildflower in North Carolina¬†near swamps, ditches, and marshes in the wild. Look for it in areas of full sun with wet, rich soil.

 


#11. Painted-leaf

  • Euphorbia cyathophora

Also known as: Wild Poinsettia

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-11
  • Life Cycle: Annual
  • Approximate Mature Size: 28-35 in (71-89 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Spring to Fall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

You can easily identify the Painted-leaf by its fiddle-shaped leaves with blotches of reddish pink near the base. Their coloring gives them a painted look, which is where their common name came from. You might mistake these colorful leaves as petals, but if you take a closer look, you will see that the true flowers are small and yellow.

 

This red wildflower in North Carolina¬†grows in many different soil types, and it’s common across its range. So you’re likely to spot it in habitats ranging from forest edges to open fields.

 


#12. Woodland Pinkroot

  • Spigelia marilandica

Also known as: Indian Pink, Pinkroot

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 12-18 in (30-46 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring to Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Partial Shade to Full Shade

 

This red wildflower grows in North Carolina in moist woods, streambeds, and ravines with lots of shade. The Woodland Pinkroot is a favorite of hummingbirds, songbirds, and butterflies.

 

If you’re looking for a versatile, easy-to-care-for ornamental plant, Woodland Pinkroot is perfect for city and coastal gardens. It has upward-facing, trumpet-shaped red flowers. Each flower has a yellow middle that flares outward to form a star.

 


#13. Coralbean

  • Erythrina herbacea

Also known as: Red Cardinal, Cherokee Bean, Mamou Plant

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 6b-10
  • Life Cycle: Annual or Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 3-25 ft (91-762 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Spring to Fall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

Don’t be confused by the similar names: Coralbean (sometimes called Red Cardinal) is a completely different plant from Red Cardinal Flower. Coralbean is generally a lighter, more pinky shade of red, and its petals are more openly spaced.

 

This plant is taller and bigger than most red wildflowers in North Carolina.

 

The Coralbean blooms are irresistible for hummingbirds. It also has thick, thorny foliage that serves as a refuge for birds and small animals against other wildlife. Look for Coralbean in the sandy soil of open woods and forest clearings.

 


#14. Wood Lily

  • Trillium cuneatum

Also known as: Purple Toadshade, Toad Trillium, Little Sweet Betsy

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5b-8a
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 12-18 in (30-46 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Sun Exposure: Partial Shade to Full Shade

 

Wood Lily is recognizable by its round, green leaves beautifully marbled with silver. A single maroon flower protrudes from the center of each leaf cluster.

 

You wouldn’t guess by its deep coloring, but the fragrance of this red wildflower in North Carolina¬†is similar to bananas! The sweet scent is attractive to bees, moths, and small mammals.

 

Look for Wood Lily in upland forests with limestone-rich soil.

 


#15. Scarlet Bee Balm

  • Monarda didyma

Also known as: Red Bergamot, Scarlet Monarda, Horsemint, Indian Plume

bee balm plants that need divided

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9a
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 24-72 in (61-183 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Summer to Fall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

A native red wildflower in North Carolina, Scarlet Bee Balm attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Scarlet Bee Balm grows up to 4′ (1.2 m) tall and produces bright red tubular blooms that are a fantastic nectar source. Deadheading flowers will encourage a second round of blooms.

 

Although it’s most commonly grown in gardens as an ornamental plant, you may spot Scarlet Bee Balm on the edge of forests in full sun.

 


#16. Trumpet Creeper

  • Campsis radicans

Also known as: Trumpet Vine, Trumpet Climber, Hellvine, Devil’s Shoestring

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-10a
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 29-40 ft (9-12 m) tall
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

Trumpet Vine is a perfect hummingbird flower (it’s even commonly referred to as “hummingbird vine”), as it features long, tubular, bright flowers with lots of nectar.

 

This reddish-orange wildflower is easy to grow in most of the country. And I do mean GROW. It has a reputation for growing like crazy, and I can second that with my first-hand experience. It needs to be trimmed regularly, or it will take over an entire area. The vine gets so big that many birds will even nest in its dense foliage!

 


#17. Wax Mallow

  • Malvaviscus arboreus

Also known as: Bleeding Hearts, Manzanilla, Sleeping Hibiscus, Ladies Teardrop

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 12-16 ft (4-5 m) tall
  • Bloom Time: Late Summer to Fall
  • Sun Exposure: Partial Shade to Full Sun

 

Wax Mallow boasts overlapping vermillion red blooms similar to hibiscus flowers. Look for it in dense forest understories, where it grows in a shrub-like shape.

 

Wherever this red wildflower in North Carolina¬†grows, you’re likely to find hummingbirds. It’s an important food source for these pollinating birds, particularly juveniles.

 


#18. Blanket Flower

  • Gaillardia pulchella

Also known as: Indian Blanket, Indian Blanketflower, Beach Blanket-flower, Firewheel, Sundance

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11
  • Life Cycle: Annual
  • Approximate Mature Size: 12-24 in (30-61cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Summer to Early Fall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

Blanket Flower is a sunflower with an impressive display of red, orange, and yellow petals. Don’t be surprised if you spot many bees and birds where these flowers grow!

 

Many beekeepers use Blanket Flower in the production of honey. The honey made from this red wildflower is mild, buttery, and amber-colored.

 

Goldfinches enjoy the seeds of Blanket Flower, so don’t forget to leave some seedheads after the flowering season!

 


What are your FAVORITE red wildflowers in North Carolina?

 

Let us know in the COMMENTS below!