Random Plant: Great blue lobelia

Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica, Campanulaceae) photographed 08/18/2012 at Pinckney State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan.

Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica, Campanulaceae) is native to swamps and wet areas throughout much of eastern North America.  Blooming in late summer and early autumn, these plants offer some nice color beneath thick forest canopies. Growing to four feet in height, each is loaded with bright blue flowers with bilateral symmetry. The upper lips of the flowers are divided into two lobes, while the lower lips are divided into three. Bright white bumps separate the lower segments while an anther hangs from above, ready to dust bumble bees and other nectar-feeders with pollen.

Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica, Campanulaceae) photographed 08/18/2012 at Pinckney State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan.

The flowers are tubular, encouraging pollinators to dig deep inside to get at the nectar, increasing the likelihood of pollination. The petals also have a striking striped pattern from the side:

Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica, Campanulaceae) photographed 08/18/2012 at Pinckney State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan.

The species name siphilitica comes from the historical use of this plant to treat syphilis. It may have done more harm than good, however; all parts of this plant are toxic in sufficient quantities.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Random Plant and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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