Lobelia

Botanical Name: Lobelia spp.

Other Common Names: Cardinal flower (red species only); Indian Tobacco (inflata species only)

Brief Description and Notes: All three of these Lobelia species are native to our region and love moist, partly-shady conditions. All three bloom through late summer and often into fall. Lobelia inflata isn’t often planted intentionally; it’s usually weeded out of gardens because folks may not recognize it when not in flower. It’s not very showy, unlike the red and blue counterparts. It is, however, the most medicinal of the Lobelias, being used primarily to support the respiratory tract.

 

Lobelia cardinalis, inflata, and siphilitica

Where To Look For It: Moist, partly-shaded locations, especially near water, in meadows, edges of woods, cultivated gardens

Ornamental Value: Cardinalis and siphilitica offer showy late-summer color and upright height. Great for a rain garden. 

Ecological Value & Roles: Cardinalis especially supports hummingbirds. All species support pollinators, especially when other flowers are fading. 

Edibility and Other Human Use: Inflata used as a medicinal (tinctured, dried and smoked). Siphilitica may have a history of use treating Syphilis. 

 

 

Sources:

Photos by Victoria Moyer