A single-stalked perennial. Flowers in spikelike racemes along the top portion of stem, about ½ inch wide, with a 2-divided upper lip and a 3-divided lower lip, pale blue to dull white; subtended by a bractlike, linear leaflet. Blooms May–August. Leaves are alternate, spaced apart, toothed, lance-shaped, to 3 inches long, and sessile. The leaf bases continue downward past the attachment point, forming a pair of wings of green tissue along the stem.
Height: to 3 feet.
Where To Find
Occurs in open woods, prairies, glades, ledges and tops of bluffs, banks of streams and rivers, fens, pastures, old fields, railroads, roadsides, and open, disturbed areas.
This plant is a good candidate for a sunny wildflower garden with rich to rocky soils. Some species of lobelias possess chemicals similar to nicotine and have been used to make antismoking medications. Lobelias have been used historically for a variety of medicinal purposes.
Several types of bees, butterflies, and skippers are attracted to the flowers. A toxic latex in the sap prevents this plant from being consumed by many small mammals.
About Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants in Missouri
A very simple way of thinking about the green world is to divide the vascular plants into two groups: woody and nonwoody (or herbaceous). But this is an artificial division; many plant families include some species that are woody and some that are not. The diversity of nonwoody vascular plants is staggering! Think of all the ferns, grasses, sedges, lilies, peas, sunflowers, nightshades, milkweeds, mustards, mints, and mallows — weeds and wildflowers — and many more!