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August Flora Spotlight:
Great Blue Lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica

Great Blue Lobelia
Lobelia siphilitica  

Great Blue Lobelia is in the Campanulaceae; Bellflower Family. This native clump-forming 
perennial features light to dark blue tubular, 2-lipped flowers with the three lobes of the lower
lip appearing more prominent than the two lobes of the upper lip. Dense flowers bloom from
the upper leaf axils on short stiff leafy stalks. The height of the plant is typically 2-3' tall. 

Great Blue Lobelia typically grows in moist to wet locations along streams, springs, swamps, 
meadows and in low wooded areas. Like its counterpart the Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis. it is easily grown in rich, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. 

To propagate, divide the clumps in spring, Great Blue Lobelia can also be propagated by collecting the seeds in mid-September to November. Experts suggest a seed treatment of moist stratification for 2 months at 40 degrees. Scratch the seed slightly in the soil. Keep moist.

Great Blue Lobelia is recognized by pollination ecologists as attracting large numbers of native bees. It supports conservation biological control: a plant that attracts predatory or parasitoid insects that prey upon pest insects. It also attracts hummingbirds and butterflies and has no serious disease or insect problems. This plant is important  for the environment. 

The Latin species name indicates that it was once thought that Great Lobelia was a cure for 
syphilis. The Native Americans used Lobelia as an analgesic and as a treatment for many 
other common ailments. Another use was as a cold infusion of the roots to treat nosebleeds.
A poultice of crusted leaves was used for headaches and a warm leaf infusion  for 

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