Lobelia spicata Lam.

Lobelia spicata plant

Family - Campanulaceae

Stems - Simple, erect, to +/-50cm tall, glabrous to variously pubescent, herbaceous, 4-5 angled.

Lobelia spicata stem

Leaves - Mostly in lower 1/2 of stem, sessile or short petiolate (near base of stem), spatulate to oblong, rounded at apex, entire to irregularly dentate (margins strigillose to ciliate), +/-5cm long, +/-2cm broad, sparse strigose to glabrous.

Lobelia spicata leaves

Inflorescence - Terminal spikiform raceme to +/-35cm long (tall). Each flower subtended by a lance-linear to subulate bract to 1.5cm long, 3mm broad. Bracts typically glabrous. Pedicels to 3mm long, glabrous to pubescent.

Lobelia spicata inflorescence

Flowers - Resupinate. Corolla whitish to lilac, to 1.3mm long, 5-lobed. Three "upper" lobes to 4.1mm long, 2mm broad, oblanceolate to lanceolate. Two "lower" lobes deflexed to reflexed, 3mm long. Stamens 5, adnate at base of corolla tube. Filaments white, pubescent at base. Anthers purplish-blue, connate around stigma. Stigma purple, bearded at base. Style 1, 5mm long, glabrous, greenish. Ovary ovoid-conic, slightly compressed, green, 2-locular. Placentation axile. Calyx tube +/-1mm long, 5-lobed. Lobes auricled at base, 3mm long, -1mm broad at base, linear-attenuate. Auricles various. Capsule to 8mm long, +/-4mm in diameter, glabrous to pubescent.

Lobelia spicata flowerFlower close-up.

Lobelia spicata flowerSide-view.

Flowering - May - August.

Habitat - Prairies, glades, open woods, bluffs, wet meadows.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This is a highly variable species. The flowers can be bluish to white, the stems can be glabrous to hispid, and the calyx lobes can have variable auricles at their bases. The anthers of the plant can also be variable in color sometimes. Steyermark breaks the species apart into 4 different varieties but these varieties integrade and can be difficult to distinguish so I won't mention them here.
Remember, the flowers are inverted (resupinate) on this plant so what looks like the top of the flower is actually the bottom and vice-versa.

Photographs taken at the Peck Ranch Wildlife Refuge, Carter County, MO., 7-12-03.


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