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Photo of spiked lobelia flower stalk.
Spiked lobelia has white or pale blue flowers all along the top portion of its single stem.
Gordon T. Maupin
Family

Campanulaceae (bellflowers)

Description

A single-stalked perennial. Flowers in spikelike racemes along the top portion of stem, about ½ inch wide, with a 2-divided upper lip and a 3-divided lower lip, pale blue to dull white; subtended by a bractlike, linear leaflet. Blooms May–August. Leaves are alternate, spaced apart, toothed, lance-shaped, to 3 inches long, and sessile. The leaf bases continue downward past the attachment point, forming a pair of wings of green tissue along the stem.

Size

Height: to 3 feet.

Habitat and conservation

Occurs in open woods, prairies, glades, ledges and tops of bluffs, banks of streams and rivers, fens, pastures, old fields, railroads, roadsides, and open, disturbed areas.

image of Spiked Lobelia distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Scattered statewide.

Human connections

This plant is a good candidate for a sunny wildflower garden with rich to rocky soils. Some species of lobelias possess chemicals similar to nicotine and have been used to make antismoking medications. Lobelias have been used historically for a variety of medicinal purposes.

Ecosystem connections

Several types of bees, butterflies, and skippers are attracted to the flowers. A toxic latex in the sap prevents this plant from being consumed by many small mammals.