Glade Lobelia

Lobelia glandulosa

glade lobelia

Glade lobelia, photographed at Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area, Palm Beach Gardens, Palm Beach County, in December 2021.

It’s impossible not to fall in love glade lobelia from the moment you first see it in bloom. Well, that might be a bit of exaggeration, but glade lobelia does have its charms. And it does catch your eye.

Glade lobelia, Lobelia glandulosa is a small, Florida native wildflower found in all but six of the Sunshine State’s 67 counties. It’s found along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains from Maryland into Mississippi. It is a perennial and a common one at that.

For much of the year, it’s pretty much inconspicuous. In in a goodly portion of its range, it goes dormant in winter, re-emerging in spring as an inconspicuous basal rosette of leaves. Come summer, it starts sending out a flower stalk; by late summer, the blooms start to appear and will continue well into fall.

The flowers are small, tubular with five “rabbit ear” petals divided into two sections, upper and lower. The top two are fused together; the bottom three are covered with fine hairs and also fused together.

Glade lobelia flowers range in colors from nearly pink to pale blue or purple to deep violet. In the center, a white patch signals the throat.

Pollinators include butterflies, bees and, interestingly, humming birds.

Glade lobelia stands 18 inches to two feet tall on a thin stem. The leaves are narrow and serrated along the edges and arranged on the stem alternately. These “teeth” contain glands that are the source of the species name, glandulosa.

It likes moist to wet soils in sunny locations. Favorite habitats include wet prairies, wet pinelands, marshes and swamps. It does not tolerate drought well.

Glade lobelia is cultivated and offered by some nurseries, but it needs to be planted in soils that remain moist.

Other members of the lobelia have been used medicinally in Native American cultures, particularly L cardinalis. Our guy, apparently not at all. Or at least we couldn’t find any records of it being used.

The lobelia name honors 17th-18th century Flemish doctor and botanist Mathias de Lobel, who also wrote an important botany textbook.

Glade lobelia is a member of Campanulaceae, the bellflower family.

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Published by Wild South Florida, PO Box 7241, Delray Beach, FL 33482.

Photographs by David Sedore. Photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without permission.