Lobelia spicata (Pale-spike Lobelia)
|Also known as:
|part shade, sun; wet meadows, prairies, open woods
|June - August
|1 to 2 feet
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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Flowers are loosely to densely packed in a spike-like raceme that can grow over a foot long over time. Individual flowers are about ½ inch across, pale blue to white, tubular with 2 small upper lobes that are bent back and 3 larger lower lobes that are similar in size. All lobes have pointed tips. There are 2 yellowish spots at the base of the lower lobes, and a dark blue stigma that sits between the 2 upper lobes. The calyx cupping the flower has 5 narrowly triangular lobes that are about as long as the floral tube. Flower stalks and the calyx are hairless to sparsely hairy.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are primarily in the lower half of the plant. Those near the base of the plant are spatula shaped to oval with rounded tips, to 3 inches long and 1 inch wide, with little or no stalk, becoming smaller and more widely spaced as they ascend the stem. Leaves are toothless to minutely toothed around the edges, sparsely hairy or hairless. Stems are unbranched, erect, single or multiple from the base, hairless to sparsely hairy, and angled with 4 or 5 edges.
Fruit is a nearly round capsule up to about ¼ inch long containing many brown seeds.
As Pale-spike Lobelia grows taller, it can bend and twist as if struggling to stay erect. The stems are a bit delicate, so perhaps it is. It is known as preferring moist soil so we were surprised to see it in the dry prairie at Glacial Lakes State Park. There are 2 varieties in Minnesota: var. spicata is mostly hairless, var. hirtella is mostly roughly hairy.
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- Pale-spike Lobelia plant
- more flowers
- Pale-spike Lobelia in a wet meadow
- Pale-spike Lobelia in a dry prairie
- flower color ranges from pale blue to white
Photos by K. Chayka taken Anoka, Chisago, Pope and Ramsey counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?