Indian Tobacco

Indian Tobacco
Indian Tobacco. Lobelia inflata.
Campanulaceae, the bellflower family.

Plant: Erect, plant with simple or sometimes branching, slightly hairy stems, 1'-3' tall, with an elongated, leafy cluster of small, light blue or violet, irregular flowers, and balloon-like fruit. Annual.
Flowers: Light blue or violet, 1/4"-3/8", bilateral corolla with three-lobed lower lip and two smaller, upper lobes. Five linear sepals arising from swollen calyx base, that enlarges to enclose the fruiting capsule. Flowers arranged in an elongated, leafy, terminal cluster (raceme).
Leaves: Alternate, ovate, sessile, or nearly so, 1"-2", margin obscurely toothed or slightly wavy.
Fruit: A capsule enclosed in a distinctive, enlarged calyx base.
Blooming: June-October
Habitat: Clearings, open woods and wood boundaries, also fields and roadsides.

Comments: The inflated fruit distinguishes this native species from other lobelias, and is responsible for the specific name. The plant is poisonous, and the root emetic. It was once used to induce vomiting, but can be fatal if too much is consumed. Certain Native American tribes supposedly smoked and chewed the leaves, hence the common name.

Where to find it: I have seen it only along the wood border adjacent to the parking lot.