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Spiked Lobelia Lobelia spicata


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Spiked Lobelia
credit: Mike Ryon, Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park

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Alternate name: Pale-spike Lobelia

Family: Campanulaceae, Bellflower view all from this family

Description Small, bilaterally symmetrical, pale blue or white flowers in an elongated, slender, spike-like cluster; stem leafy, often reddish and hairy at base, smooth above.
Habit: native perennial herb; stem thin, unbranched; taprooted; variable appearance.
Height: 1-4 ft (30-120 cm).
Leaf: in basal rosette, club-shaped, to 2 in (5 cm) long; on stem, alternate, lanceolate to narrowly ovate, usually shallowly toothed or wavy, becoming fewer and smaller above, to 3.5 in (90 mm) long, to 1 in (25 mm) wide.
Flower: lavender to purplish-blue to pale blue, 5-parted, stalked, 0.3-0.5 in (8-12 mm) long; with 2 smaller upper petals, 3 larger lower petals; held in long slender spike, to 16 in (40 cm) long, along upper half of stem.
Fruit: tiny, round capsule, to 0.2 in (5 mm) diameter.

Warning The leaves, seeds, and roots of some plants of the Lobelia genus contain poisonous substances and have caused fatalities in humans and animals when ingested. All plants in the genus may contain toxins and should not be ingested. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.

Flower June to August.

Flower June - July

Habitat Moist to dry soil: cedar barrens, moist or low prairie, savannas, wet meadows, old fields, thickets, bluffs, open woods.

Range Alberta and Quebec south through most of our eastern and Midwestern states, and west to eastern Texas.

Discussion Also known as pale-spike lobelia. This is a highly variable species with several varieties recognized by botanists; up to five varieties have been proposed.

Exposure Preference Sun to partial shade.

Native Distribution S.e. Canada to Saskatchewan & n.e. Montana, s. to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana & e. Texas

Site Preference Prairies; open woodlands

Soil Preference Moist to dry soils.