Lobelia kalmii (Kalm's Lobelia)
|Also known as:||Brook Lobelia, Ontario Lobelia|
|Habitat:||sun; seeps, fens, wet meadows, shores|
|Bloom season:||July - September|
|Plant height:||4 to 16 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.
Loose racemes of ¼ to ½ inch irregular blue to purple flowers, sometimes white, on slender stalks. The lower lip is fan-shaped with 3 oblong lobes all about the same size, rounded at the tip but often with an abrupt sharp point; the middle lobe is white at the base, sometimes yellowish. The upper lip is divided into 2 small erect lobes, pointed at the tip and resembling (to me) rabbit ears, the short curved style poking out between them.
Leaves and stems:
Upper leaves are up to 2 inches long and less than ¼ inch wide, mostly linear or narrowly spatulate, also with tiny teeth widely spaced around the edges, mostly erect. Leaves and stems are mostly hairless, sometimes sparsely hairy in the lower plant.
Kalm's Lobelia is a sweet little thing, and much more common that I imagined. It is easily found growing in the rocks along the north shore of Lake Superior, seemingly sprouting out of solid rock. The inland locations are more difficult to find. Collections sites documented in old herbarium records that we've tried to locate have largely been choked out with non-native grasses and weeds, and devoid of natives due to agriculture. The rocky shore of Lake Superior is not immune from these forces, however, as Tansy and other invasive species gain a larger foothold. The Lobelia genus was once in its own Lobeliaceae family, then was moved to the Campanulaceae (Bellflower) family but is now back in Lobeliaceae.
Please visit our sponsors
Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken along the North Shore in Cook and Lake counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?