Lobelia erinus L.


Campanulaceae (Bellflower Family)


South Africa



                                          June Photo


Plant Characteristics:  Diffuse and half trailing annual, 6-12 in. high, glabrous or slightly hairy below, the slender branching stems leafy throughout; lower lvs. obovate or spatulate, crenate-toothed, very obtuse; upper lvs. oblanceolate or oblong, becoming linear and acute near the top of the st., mostly sharp-angled; fls. 1/2-3/4 in. across, on slender pedicels; calyx-segms. awl-like, spreading, as long as the corolla-tube; corolla light blue or violet with white or yellowish throat, the 3 lower lobes large and spreading; the 2 lower anthers bearded.  Exceedingly variable in habit, in color of foliage and color and size of fls.


Habitat:  One of the commonest annual edging plants.  Escape from cult.  Blooms most of the year.


Name:  Named for Matthias de Lobel, 1538-1616, a Flemish botanist and author.  Erinus, ancient name of a plant of this habit, used also as a generic name in Scrophulariaceae.  (Bailey 970).


General:  Rare in the study area.  Photographed in big Canyon and at the northerly end of Eastbluff along Back Bay Dr.  (my comments).      Dangerous herbal teas contain chemicals that can adversely affect the body and mind.  Chamomile causes hives or respiratory problems for people with allergies to ragweed, asters, chrysanthemums or related plants...Lobelia depresses breathing, increases heartbeat, and causes coma or even death if doses are high enough.  To drink herbal teas safely: check the label for ingredients and warnings of possible side effects.  Be careful not to make the tea too strong or drink too much.  Buy only bagged teas from a reputable company.  (Dangerous Herbal Teas. Bottom Line Personal.  March 30, 1988. p 15. no author listed).         Lobelia cardinalis is a specific herb for bronchial spasms and one of the best plant expectorants.  This species is not nearly as potent as L. inflata, the drug plant, so a scant teaspoon of the chopped plant in a tea is a safe dosage.  Lobelia is a stimulant to the vagus nerve and can easily produce nausea and vomiting when drunk in excess.  (Moore, Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West 98).           L. inflata is the most powerful relaxant known among herbs that ha no harmful effects....It is one of the most valuable herbs used in botanic practice.  Much has been written as to whether this herb is a poison or not.  Practical experience-which is far better than theory-has proved that it is as harmless as milk, instead of being a poison, it is an antidote to poison.  (Kloss 253).      Indians used the root and plant of red Lobelia for syphilis and for expelling or destroying intestinal worms.  (Sweet 57).             250 species in many parts of the world.  (Bailey 970).  


Text Ref:  Bailey 970.

Photo Ref:  July 2 83 # 18; Aug 1 84 # 15; May-June 2000  # 12,13..

Identity: by R. De Ruff, confirmed by F. Roberts.  

First Found: August 1984.


Computer Ref:  Plant Data 211.

No plant specimen.

Last edit  3/1/05.  

                        June Photo                                                                         August Photo