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Lobelia inflata L.
Campanulaceae (Bellflower Family)
USDA Symbol: LOIN
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
Slightly hairy stems may be simple or branched and have several tiny lavender or blue-violet to white flowers in terminal, leafy, elongated clusters.
This acrid poisonous annual is found in a variety of sites, often in poor soil. The American Indians were said to have smoked and chewed its leaves; hence the common name. Though once used as an emetic, the root should not be eaten, for if taken in quantity it can be fatal.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Annual
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Blue , Purple , Violet
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NS , PE
Native Distribution: Across southern Canada; south to Georgia; west to Arkansas and eastern Kansas.
Native Habitat: Fields, open woods, and roadsides.
BenefitUse Food: American First Nations were said to have smoked and chewed its leaves; hence the common name. (Niering)
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts. Toxic only if eaten in large quantities. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, exhaustion and weakness, dilation of pupils, convulsions, and coma. Toxic Principle: Alkaloids lobelamine, lobeline, and others, plus a volatile oil. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.). 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.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Find Seed or Plants
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
Web ReferenceWebref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Lobelia inflata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Lobelia inflata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Lobelia inflata
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-03-15
Research By: TWC Staff