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Genus Lobelia Family Lobeliaceae

Synonyms: Hypsela APNI*

Description: Annual or perennial herbs usually glabrous; stems erect and mostly few-branched or prostrate, monoecious [or dioecious], often with milky sap, usually with a tap root, rarely with adventitious roots.

Leaves alternate, cauline leaves sometimes reduced to bracts, margins toothed or rarely lobed or entire.

Inflorescence terminal and cymose or raceme-like or flowers solitary, with 1–3 leaf-like or reduced bracts or bracteoles. Flowers unisexual. Calyx shortly tubular, lobed. Corolla tube split almost to base on upper side, 2-lipped, with the upper lip of 2 erect or recurved often much shorter lobes, and the lower one of 3 spreading lobes. Stamens fused to corolla at base; filaments sometimes splitting with age; 3 upper anthers slightly longer and with or without hairs, the 2 lower ones shorter with or without apical hairs. Ovary inferior, 2-locular; stigma 2-lobed.

Fruit a capsule dehiscing mainly loculicidally, 2-valved.


Photo © ANBG

Distribution and occurrence: World: >300 species, cosmopolitan, especially tropical & subtropical regions of North America, southern Africa & Australia. Australia: c. 20 species (native), all States.

Text by B. Wiecek
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Lobelia surrepens

 Key to the species 
1Flowers at the tip of the shoot in a raceme-like arrangement, subtended by bracts or very reduced leaves2
1Flowers solitary in the axils of leaves (but leaves often reducing in size towards the tips of stems in L. anceps)6
2Stems decumbent, flowering shoots ascending; leaves ovate, base of lamina truncate to cordateLobelia trigonocaulis
Stems erect or ascending; leaves oblanceolate to linear-elliptic, sessile, subsessile or tapering to the base
                       Back to 1
3
3Seeds strongly 3-angled, smooth and shiny4
Seeds not 3-angled, surface very faintly ridged or reticulate
                       Back to 2
5
4Capsule 7–15 mm long; upper corolla lobes recurved, glabrousLobelia simplicicaulis
Capsule 3.5–4 mm long; upper corolla lobes incurved and pilose
                       Back to 3
Lobelia andrewsii
5Lower leaves with margins usually entire, rarely with a few narrow teeth; seeds irregularly angular, reticulateLobelia gibbosa
Lower leaves ovate, margins broadly lobed; seeds ellipsoidal, very faintly ridged to almost smooth
                       Back to 3
Lobelia dentata
6Young stems usually with a narrow wing 0.2–1.1 mm wide; capsule ± cylindrical, 8–12.5 mm long, 2–2.5 mm wideLobelia anceps
Stems sometimes ridged but not distinctly winged; capsule ellipsoid to obovoid or obconical, = 7 mm long
                       Back to 1
7
7Pedicels 1–5(–7) mm long; leaves crowdedLobelia darlingensis
Pedicels (8–)10–60(–70) mm long; leaves ± well spaced
                       Back to 6
8
8Lamina usually broadly ovate, margins toothed, base rounded; petiole distinctLobelia membranacea
Lamina linear to narrow-elliptical or elliptical, tapering to an indistinct petiole
                       Back to 7
9
9Pedicels (8–)10–30 mm long; plants with spreading hairsLobelia pratioides
Pedicels 35–70 mm long; plants glabrous
                       Back to 8
Lobelia stenophylla

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