Lobelia is a genus of more than 400 species in the family Campanulaceae, widely distributed all over the world.
Lobelia produces lovely flowers that attract butterflies, hummingbirds and beneficial insects. The flowers are comprised of five petals, the “upper lip” of two petals and a “lower lip” of three petals, all joined in a long nectar tube. The upper two petals are thin and upright, while the three lower petals are much larger and wider. Lobelia is a popular garden plant which enhances the beauty of any garden!
The genus was named in honor of the famous Belgian botanist and physician Matthias de Lobel (1538–1616).
Lobelia symbolizes distinction and malevolence.
Interesting facts about Lobelia:
Is Lobelia Poisonous?
Some varieties are toxic to animals, but the intensely bitter taste of the plant would generally cause the animal to start vomiting shortly after ingestion. However, keep your pets away from this plant.
The plant is also considered toxic to humans if it enters in high amounts in the body. High doses can cause serious effects such as nausea, vomiting, profuse sweating, tremors, drooling, diarrhea, convulsions, hypothermia and even coma.
Benefits and Uses
Some species, especially Lobelia inflata and Lobelia nicotianaefolia, have been used as a medicine for a very long time and has a long history of therapeutic and ritual use.
Lobelia has been used against respiratory ailments including bronchitis, whooping cough, asthma and pneumonia.
Due to its antispasmodic properties, Lobelia may help relax smooth muscles. It can also help alleviate menstrual cramps and muscle cramps. Due to its diaphoretic and anti-bacterial properties, Lobelia also helps treat insect bites. Today, it is commonly used to calm the nerves and act as a natural sedative and powerful antispasmodic.
Scientific studies have proved that these plants have a considerable effect in terms of seizure prevention and neuron protection in those with Parkinson’s disease.
Women who are pregnant or nursing, or people with high blood pressure or heart disease should avoid this plant.
The plant has been used as a tea, powder, poultice, essential oil, tincture, and some people even smoke it. Many parts of the plant can be used, including leaves, flowers and stems. Due to its strong effects when taken in its pure form, Lobelia is best used as a tea or in smoking blends.
Some believe that drinking Lobelia tea has the effect of making cigarettes taste bad. Lobelia inflata, also known as Indian Tobacco or Puke Weed, is one of themost commonly used herbs to quit smoking, and was therefore used as an alternative to tobacco. Lobeline, an alkaloid constituent of Lobelia inflata, resembles nicotine in its pharmacological effects and affects the brain in ways similar to nicotine. This chemical has also been used to induce emesis (vomiting), hence the common name Puke Weed. This way, it can be used to eliminate toxins from the human body.
Annuals, Perennials, Shrubs
The flowers come in shades of blue, white, pink, red and purple.
Spring, Autumn, Summer
The plant ranges in height from 15 cm (6 inches) to 150 cm (5 ft), depending on species.
Lobelia prefers rich, moist and well drained soil, with a pH level from 6.0 to 7.5.