Beautiful Bay Lobelia

Donna Winter (Class of 2016) identified this beautiful bay lobelia (Lobelia feayana) growing in a very moist area near the canoe launch that is adjacent to the Ansin Tract Conservation Area visited on 4-6-2019.

Bay lobelia flowers are tiny (1/4- to 1/2-inch long) and vary in color from bluish to purplish-pink.  They have 5 petals:  The 2 upper petals are thin and upright, and 3 lower petals that are fused to form a “lip” marked with white.

Flowering is primarily during warm, moist months.  The seeds of this annual plant are borne in inconspicuous capsules.

Its basal leaves are alternate and ovate with minutely scalloped margins.

The genus name,  Lobelia, honors Matthias de Lobel (1538–1616), a Flemish physician and botanist.  The species name, feayana, references  Dr. Feay, who collected the plant.  You may know the plant Feay’s palafoxia (Palafoxia feayi) that grows at both the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area and at the Ansin property and that also honors him with its species name.

Bay lobelia is sometimes confused with Canadian blue toadflax, Linaria canadensis, another diminutive wildflower commonly seen along roadsides that has a similar color and flower shape.  Canadian blue toadflax grows in drier and more disturbed places.

Bay lobelia is nearly endemic to Florida and is a plant of open, moist sites.  The USF Florida Plant Atlas reports that only a small population exists in Georgia outside of Florida’s borders.

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