This plant's name comes from its bright red flowers, resembling the robes worn by Roman Catholic cardinals. Explorers in North America were quick to appreciate the cardinal flower's attractiveness and to send specimens back to France to share the wealth of the New World. The species was planted in English gardens in the days of Queen Elizabeth I. In his book Flore laurentienne, Marie-Victorin rightly stated that the cardinal flower is one of our loveliest native flowers. Today it is sold through garden centres as an ornamental. The plant is toxic but not fatal.