This is an infrequent to rare species in the lake area with a few reports from the southwestern border of the state. It grows in moist, sandy, slightly acid soils, usually in marshes or wet prairie habitats. It is generally found in small colonies, but I saw acres of it in a drained marsh that had been closely pastured for a few years. It is still somewhat frequent on the borders of sloughs between the low dunes near Lake Michigan in Lake County; elsewhere it is rare or extinct. Red is the common color form, and yellow is infrequent.
Annual or biennial, ±hairy, usually simple, 2-6 dm; principal cauline lvs very diverse, entire to commonly 3-5-cleft, with linear or oblong segments, the terminal one usually the largest; spike dense, 4-6 cm, elongating to 1-2 dm in fr; bracts wholly or mostly scarlet (rarely yellowish), commonly deeply 3-lobed, occasionally 5-lobed, cal 17-25 mm, thin, often ±scarlet, deeply divided into lateral halves, each half widened distally and the summit broadly rounded to truncate or barely emarginate; cor greenish-yellow, 21-27 mm, little longer than the cal, the minute lower lip less than a third as long as the galea; 2n=48. Meadows, moist prairies, and damp sandy soil; Mass. to Ont. and Man., s. to S.C., Miss., and Okla. May-Aug.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.