I found this wonderful surprise in my prairie this week. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw two spikes of Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) blossoms standing there in between the Woodland Sunflowers and the Spotted Jewelweed. Everything is such a mess all around the area, but there was this surprise. I was amazed! Great Blue Lobelia was one of the earliest natives I planted in my wet mesic prairie, but I haven’t seen it in awhile. The reward from Mother Nature for sustaining all the damage to our landscape was this surprise.
Great Blue Lobelia
Great Blue Lobelia is native to the Eastern and North Central USA and north into Canada. It likes wet ground, so you’ll find it growing along streams, rivers and lakes, as well as swamps, marshes, ditches and low-lying wooded areas.
It’s stalks of bright blue flowers are showy and are often found in clumps. The flowers themselves consists of a tube like blossom with upper and lower lips. Two lips on top and three lips on the bottom with an accentuating white stripe. They bloom late July or August and continue through September or early October.
It’s leaves are alternate and they are a chubby lance-shaped, light green. They can be up to six inches long and are typically irregularly toothed, which makes them fairly distinctive as they climb up the stalk. It gets it’s name siphilitica because it was used to treat venereal disease syphilis. The roots, stems and leaves are toxic, so large quantities can be hazardous to one’s health.
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