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Lobelia inflata

Lobelia inflata L.

 

Bladderpod, Indian Tobacco, Wild Tobacco, Pukeweed, Asthma Weed, Vomitwort

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderAsteralesFlowering plants with a central disk flower and surrounding petals, like daisies
FamilyCampanulaceaeCampanula or bellflower family; means “bell-shaped flowers”
GenusLobeliaNamed for Flemish botanist Matthias de l’Obel, also known as Lobelius
Speciesinflata“Inflated,” a reference to the base of the flower

About plant names...

Indian tobacco is a North American native plant.

Identification: These plants are 6-28" (15-70 cm) in height. Stems have fine hairs. Leaves are 2-3" (5-7.6 cm) long and half as wide, roughly oval in shape, with fine teeth. Flowers are ¼" (6.3 mm) in size, white to pale blue or lavender in color, with a lower lip split into three sections, an an inflated base that becomes a seed pod about ¼" (8.5 mm) across. Flowers are bilaterally symmetrical, and they appear from July to October. Usually the flower stalks are on angled, leafless branches from the main stem, in addition to the main stem itself. Although the flowers are small, these pod-studded branches, like rattles, are the most easily identified characteristic.

Edibility: Poisonous Skull & Crossbones This plant has been used in the past to induce vomiting, hence the name “pukeweed.” When eaten, in addition to nausea, it can cause convulsions or coma. These effects do not occur from smoking.

Medical: Indian tobacco has long been smoked as a remedy for asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and cough, both by native Americans and by some herbalists even today. Lobeline, an active ingredient, was tried as a substitute for nicotine in helping people to quit smoking. Although it may actually help for this purpose, there is not enough research data to support it, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned its use for this purpose in 1993. This plant has also been used as a purgative (like ipecac), eaten to induce vomiting, but it is too dangerous for this purpose.

Online References:

Lobelia inflata on Ontario Wildflowers

Lobelia inflata at Minnesota Wildflowers

Lobelia inflata at the University of Wisconsin's Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium

Lobelia inflata at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Lobelia inflata at the University of Maryland Medical Center

Lobelia inflata at Botanical.com

Lobelia inflata on the USDA Plants Database

Lobelia inflata on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site

Lobelia inflata (Bladderpod, Indian Tobacco, Wild Tobacco, Pukeweed, Asthma Weed, Vomitwort)

10/22/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 7 × 11" (18 × 27 cm)

Lobelia inflata (Bladderpod, Indian Tobacco, Wild Tobacco, Pukeweed, Asthma Weed, Vomitwort)

8/18/2010 · J. Harry Rich Woods, off Nod Rd., Groton, MA
≈ 9 × 11" (23 × 28 cm)

Lobelia inflata (Bladderpod, Indian Tobacco, Wild Tobacco, Pukeweed, Asthma Weed, Vomitwort)

10/22/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 7 × 11" (18 × 27 cm)

Lobelia inflata (Bladderpod, Indian Tobacco, Wild Tobacco, Pukeweed, Asthma Weed, Vomitwort)

8/18/2010 · J. Harry Rich Woods, off Nod Rd., Groton, MA
≈ 2½ × 2½" (6.9 × 6.3 cm)

Lobelia inflata description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 15 Oct 2013.

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Lobelia inflata (Bladderpod, Indian Tobacco, Wild Tobacco, Pukeweed, Asthma Weed, Vomitwort)

8/18/2010 · J. Harry Rich Woods, off Nod Rd., Groton, MA
≈ 6 × 7" (14 × 18 cm)

Lobelia inflata (Bladderpod, Indian Tobacco, Wild Tobacco, Pukeweed, Asthma Weed, Vomitwort)

8/18/2010 · J. Harry Rich Woods, off Nod Rd., Groton, MA
≈ 1¾ × 2½" (4.9 × 6.1 cm)

Lobelia inflata (Bladderpod, Indian Tobacco, Wild Tobacco, Pukeweed, Asthma Weed, Vomitwort)

7/20/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 4 × 6" (11 × 14 cm)

Lobelia inflata (Bladderpod, Indian Tobacco, Wild Tobacco, Pukeweed, Asthma Weed, Vomitwort)

10/22/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 7 × 11" (18 × 27 cm)

Lobelia inflata (Bladderpod, Indian Tobacco, Wild Tobacco, Pukeweed, Asthma Weed, Vomitwort)

10/22/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 7 × 11" (18 × 27 cm)

Lobelia inflata (Bladderpod, Indian Tobacco, Wild Tobacco, Pukeweed, Asthma Weed, Vomitwort)

8/18/2010 · J. Harry Rich Woods, off Nod Rd., Groton, MA
≈ 8 × 12" (20 × 31 cm)

Range:

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