Indian Pink, Spigelia marilandica, also known as Woodland Pinkroot or just Pinkroot, is native not only to Texas but also the southeastern states, and Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana.
According to the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Research and Extension…“The genus name was given by Linnaeus and honors Adrian van der Spigel, a Brussels doctor who wrote a text in 1606 detailing the procedure for developing an herbarium to preserve dried plants.” Marilandica is a reference to the state of Maryland.
Although that explains the botanical name the common name is a little bit more obscure. The dried roots used to be collected by the Creek and Cherokee Indians for sale to traders where it was thought to have medicinal qualities. All parts of the plant including the seeds are poisonous. It contains an alkaloid spigiline which causes dim vision, vomiting and convulsions among other symptoms (North Carolina State Extension).
Indian Pink is a beautiful herbaceous perennial that should be grown for its striking flowers. Nature does not exactly follow the color wheel as can be seen by the trumpet shaped upward facing tubular flowers, red-pink on the outside and light yellow on the inside flaring open into a five pointed star. It blooms in April and May in our parts of Texas. It takes a few years to form a nice clump, 1-3 ft, but it is worth the wait and attractive to hummingbirds.
It grows best in dappled shade, moist sandy loam and slightly acidic soil. It is drought tolerant once established. In sunnier locations it may require more frequent watering.
Propagation can be done by root division and fresh seed. The seed capsules ripen in June and July and once ripe the capsules split open, and seeds scattered nearby. To capture the seeds, place a small organza bag over the capsules until ripe. Propagation can also be achieved by tip cuttings before the plant sets blooms.
There is a cultivar ‘Little Redhead’ available which is a compact version of the native Indian Pink.