Lobelia dortmanna (Water Lobelia)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Lobelia
Family:Lobeliaceae (Lobelia)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:sun; lake edges, shallow water
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:10 to 40 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: none MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Loose raceme on the emergent portion of a hollow stem, rising up to 12 inches above the water surface. Flowers are pale blue to white, ½ to ¾ inch long, the petals forming a long tube with 3 lower lobes of similar size and 2 smaller upper lobes. The lower lobes are hairy at the base. 5 short lance-like sepals surround the base of the tube, set upon a short stalk.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are usually submerged, linear and flattened with a blunt tip, hollow, 1 to 2 inches long, forming a basal rosette of arching blades. Stem is hollow and unbranched.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] The fruit is a nodding, conical barrel-like capsule about ½ inch long with the remnant of the style attached at the tip.

Notes:

A decidedly northern species, Lobelia dortmanna is relatively common in the cool, clear tanin-stained lakes of the Arrowhead region. While only the emergent 10-12 inches is visible, the hollow, underwater portion of the flower stalk can be up to 3 feet long! Flowers can even bloom and set seed under water. When not in bloom, the hollow, blunt-tipped leaves distinguish Water Lobelia from other aquatic species.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Toohey Lake, Cook County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Toohey Lake and at Divide Lake, Lake County.

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