The following information was taken from the Lobelia Wikipedia page:
Lobelia cardinalis (commonly known as lobster weed) is a common species of creeping vine found growing in many parts of the world. It grows up to 10 feet tall and wide with thick, woody stems. Its leaves are alternate, oval or elliptic in shape and have five leaflets each. They are dark green above and light green beneath with four pairs of veins running through them.
Lobelia cardinalis is native to Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa. It is widely cultivated in some areas where it may reach heights of 30 feet.
It has been used medicinally for centuries. Some believe its use dates back thousands of years when the Romans were using it as a laxative and to treat intestinal problems such as dysentery. Today, lobelia is often grown for ornamental purposes but also for food production because of its edible seeds which contain protein and fat.
In the United States, lobelia is commonly grown for ornamental purposes and for food production. The plants grow wild throughout most of the eastern half of the country and are sometimes called “hay bales” due to their tendency to form large mats underfoot. They can be invasive in gardens if not controlled.
There are several methods for controlling lobelia including cutting back, burning or digging out the roots; however, none of these methods completely eliminate its growth. Regular cutting back of the stems will keep it from spreading in certain areas, but it will continue to spread throughout other parts of your garden. It is important to keep in mind that lobelia can be a very hardy plant and will do its best to survive no matter what you do. It can survive under harsh conditions such as droughts, poor soil, hot sun and even light frosts.
It can be a very attractive addition to your garden due to its various bright colors. It is available in several different colors and also comes in double or semi-double flower varieties. It is a low-growing plant that spreads quickly but can be easily controlled with some maintenance. It can be grown in containers, hanging baskets or in the ground.
Lobelia can grow up to three feet tall and is suitable for rock gardens, wildflower gardens and even for growing indoors as a pot plant. Its blue flowers with their bright orange centers are very attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. To keep lobelia thriving and healthy it is important to plant it in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter such as manure or compost.
The following information was also taken from the Lobelia Wikipedia page:
Lobelia (commonly known as lobelia) is a genus of between five and thirty species of annuals, biennials and perennials native to temperate areas of the world. It is part of the milfoil family, bound in the subfamily lobelioideae. The genus includes herbaceous plants, shrubs and small trees. Several lobelia species are cultivated as garden plants, particularly L.
inflata which is known as Indian tobacco, used by many North American Native tribes including the Lakota, Cheyenne and other Lakȟóta to carry the smoke to the nose during prayers.
The active ingredient of tobacco, nicotine, was first extracted in relatively pure form from the plant in 1828 by Pierre Robiquet, a French chemist who worked in Paris. Robiquet was working for the French government, which was trying to prevent the use of tobacco and he wanted to find a substitute for the manufacture of smoking pipes. He found that an alkaloid in lobelia, which he named “lobeline”, had a similar effect to nicotine. The name is used in several different forms including “laboline”, “lobelin”, “lobeline hydrochloride” or simply just “lobeline”.
It is still used in some over-the-counter preparations to help people stop smoking and in other types of medication.
Lobelia is a common remedy in herbal medicine. It is used for treating a range of conditions including asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, the common cold, pertussis (whooping cough), mastitis, influenza, venereal disease, abdominal pains and headaches as well as being an analgesic and a local anesthetic. It is also used in Ayurveda, where it is considered to be a powerful digestive.
The species L. cardinalis is known as the red cardinal flower or Indian pink and the species L. inflata is known as the Indian tobacco or lobelia. In Australia, the species L.
dissecta is called the split-lipped lobelia.
The genus is native to the Americas but has spread to other parts of the world. The species have a wide variety of uses among Native American tribes. The Lakota people smoke the dried leaves for relief from headaches and the Blackfoot eat the roots for the same reason. Many tribes use it as a fiber plant to make cordage.
Although lobelia in large quantities can be poisonous, it has a history of herbal use without any recorded fatalities. It was first used by Native Americans long before any Europeans arrived in North America.
Some commercial preparations sold to help people stop smoking contain lobelia, but smoking itself is extremely harmful and tobacco products should not be used in any form. Lobelia does not treat the addiction itself, which can be very serious.
The major use of lobelia is as a topical treatment for cramps and other muscular and uterine problems. The Native Americans used lobelia as part of an enema for bowel complaints and it has also been used to increase urine flow. It can also be taken orally in a tea or tincture for these conditions. It is sometimes used to treat sore throats when combined with thyme and cinnamon.
There has been a lot of interest in lobelia as a treatment for asthma, particularly by herbalists in Australia, where it is commonly mixed with honey and smoked to relieve asthma symptoms. Allergies are treated by placing a little lobelia leaf on the tongue.
Lobelia is also used by herbalists to treat menstrual problems, including excessive bleeding and cramps.
Excessive vomiting caused by poisoning or morning sickness in pregnancy can be relieved by smoking a mixture of lobelia and mullein. The Lakota people use an infusion of the roots for nosebleeds and the Cheyenne people use it specifically to stop bleeding after birth.
Lobelia was also used by some Native Americans to treat venereal disease.
A tea made from the leaves and flowers can be used as an eye wash.
There is no good evidence to support these uses, but it appears to be fairly safe due to its low toxicity. Lobelia should not be used during pregnancy or if there is a risk of heart disease or high blood pressure.
It can cause nausea, vomiting and contract the bowels.
Because lobelia is an irritant, it should not be applied to the skin undiluted.
The plant contains a number of alkaloids, mainly lobeline, which is a dopaminergic antagonist with some properties similar to nicotine. Although the effects on the body are broadly similar, nicotine acts much faster and in larger quantities is much more toxic.
There are a number of different chemical compounds in lobelia, which are still being studied for their effects on the body. It is not yet known which, if any, are responsible for the pharmacological effects.
The different forms of lobelia therefore have different effects:
It should not be surprising that a plant with so many different chemical compounds has a wide range of potential side-effects and interactions with other medicines. As a result, lobelia preparations should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional.
Lobelia is ‘possibly unsafe’ during pregnancy and when breastfeeding and those with liver or heart disease should avoid it.
Sources & references used in this article:
The conservation and ecology of the heath lobelia, Lobelia urens L. by JM Dinsdale – 1996 – pearl.plymouth.ac.uk
THE PLANT PRESS by Y Gottfried – new.sewanee.edu
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata L.) by Á Máthé – Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of North America, 2020 – Springer
Midwest Gardener’s Handbook: Your Complete Guide: Select-Plan-Plant-Maintain-Problem-solve-Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota … by T DiSabato-Aust – 2006 – Timber Press
Colorful Plant Beds for South Florida and Similar Climates by M Myers – 2013 – books.google.com