Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata)Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata)
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Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata)
Table of Contents

Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 01
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 01)  Indian tobacco is the most common of the blue lobelias, and is easily distinguished from the others by the swollen seed pods, hence the scientific species name, inflata.  The common name, Indian tobacco, reflects the Native Americans' (American Indians') habit of smoking and chewing the leaves.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 01a
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 01a)  This is a closer look at a portion of the previous Indian tobacco photo.  To the bottom left and right we can see a couple of fully opened 1/4 inch long flowers.  Also, in the lower right, and in the center, we can see that a few of the flowers have faded and the seed pods have begun to swell.  At the top of the photo, we can see fully swollen or "inflated" seed pods.  This photo also gives us a good look at the oval shaped, toothed leaves that grow alternately along the stems of the Indian tobacco.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 02
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 02)  The Indian tobacco flowers grow on a raceme, the end of which is shown in this close up view.  At the tip of the racemes are the flower buds, followed by the flowers, and then the seed pods.  The Indian tobacco flower is irregular with a two-lipped corolla.  The upper lip splits into two upright pointed lobes, and the lower lip is spreading with three lobes.  Between the lobes of the upper lip of the Indian tobacco flower is a "rod" made up of stamens and pistils.  We do not know what the greenish-yellow growth is on the lower lip.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 03
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 03)  This is another look at an Indian tobacco raceme.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 04
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 04)  This is a close up look at a faded Indian tobacco flower and the swelling seed pod.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 05
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 05)  The Indian tobacco leaves grow alternately along the stem.  Branches and racemes grow from the leaf axil; the start of one can be seen at the top of the photo.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 06
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 06)  We like this photo because it gives the Indian tobacco seed pod an ethereal look.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 07
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 07)  The individual flowers of the Indian tobacco also grow from leaf axils of the raceme leaves, which is easier to observe when the racemes are more mature and the flowers have gone to seed.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 08
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 08)  In contrast to the previous photo of an Indian tobacco raceme, it is extremely difficult to observe that these flower buds are each growing from a separate leaf axil.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 09
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 09)  This is another look at the tip of an Indian tobacco leafy raceme.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 10
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 10)  In this photo, we can see how the top of the leafy raceme of the Indian tobacco begins to elongate, and the individual flowers can be seen growing from leaf axils.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 11
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 11)  This is another look at a developing Indian tobacco flowering raceme.  For size comparison, remember that the actual size of an individual flower is only 1/4 inch long.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 12
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 12)  We find it interesting to note that the acrid alkaloids in the stems and leaves of the Indian tobacco cause nausea and other violent reactions, much like our more modern tobacco.  Despite this obvious God given natural reaction to something toxic to our bodies, people "learn" to tolerate it.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 13
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 13)  This is a close-up of an Indian tobacco flower bud.  The extracted alkaloid from the stems and leaves was used in many "quack" medicines because, to paraphrase one reference, "It set the insides on fire."  In more modern times the alkaloid has found use in several anti-smoking products.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 14
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 14)  Indian tobacco flower buds and spider webs.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 15
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 15)  Indian tobacco bloom from late June through October.  We discovered this one growing in one of our planter boxes on our deck.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 15a
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 15a)  In this photo, we can see the hairy stem and leaf edge of the Indian tobacco.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 16
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 16)  This is a close up look at the new growth on an Indian tobacco plant.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 17
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 17)  Another look at the Indian tobacco.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 18
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 18)  Another look at an Indian tobacco plant.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 19
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 19)  Another view of an Indian tobacco flower and buds.
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 20
(Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) - 20)  Another look at an Indian tobacco flower.

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