spiked lobelia

(Lobelia spicata var. hirtella)

Conservation Status


No image available

  IUCN Red List

not listed


N4N5 - Apparently Secure to Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FAC - Facultative


FAC - Facultative

  Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative


Spikes lobelia is an erect, perennial forb that rises on a single stem from a taproot and fibrous roots. It can be 8 to 40 tall, but usually reaches no more than 32 in height at maturity.

The stems are erect or ascending, green, and usually unbranched. They are 4- or 5-angled, especially near the top, with narrow wings along the ridges. They are covered with stiff, spreading hairs.

The leaves are alternate, ascending, and stalkless. The leaf blades are to 2¾ long, and to 1 wide. They are egg-shaped to egg lance-shaped, lance-shaped, or narrowly oblong. They are rounded at the tip or angled to a blunt point. The leaves toward the base are broad, becoming narrower and shorter as they ascend the stem. The base of the leaf blade is narrowed and continues down along the stalk as a pair of wings. The margins are usually untoothed and have a fringe of short, fine, spreading hairs. Below the midpoint of the stem the upper and lower leaf surfaces are covered with stiff, spreading hairs. Basal leaves, if present, are no larger than lower stem leaves.

The inflorescence is a loosely- or densely-flowered, spike-like, unbranched, 4 to 12 long cluster (raceme) at the end of the stem. The inflorescence axis is hairless or sparsely hairy. There is a 1½ to 6 long section of bare axis between the lowermost flower and the uppermost leaf.

Each flower is borne on a to long stalk (pedicel) rising from the axil of a bract. The bracts are covered with stiff, spreading hairs. The lower bracts are leaf-like, lance-shaped, and up to 3 5 long, becoming much shorter and linear as they ascend the stem. There is also a pair of minute bracts closely subtending each calyx. The flowers are borne upside down due to the twisting of the pedicel.

Each flower is ¼ to long. At the base there are 5 green sepals (calyx) that are fused at their base into a 1 32 to 1 16 long tube, then separated into five to ¼ long lobes. The calyx tube is covered with stiff, spreading hairs. The calyx lobes may or may not have ear-like projections (auricles) at the base. If auricles are present, they are minute, no more than 1 64 long. The calyx tube does not become inflated as the fruit matures.

There are 5 pale blue or white petals fused at their base into a to 3 16 long corolla tube, then separated into an upper and lower lip. The corolla tube does not have longitudinal slits. The “upper” lip (appearing lower due to the twisting of the pedicel) is large and is split into three lobes up to 3 16 long and 1 16 wide. The “lower” lip (appearing upper) is split nearly to the base into 2 much narrower lobes. The lobes of the “lower” lip are spreading, upward-curved, and up to long, with a tuft of white hairs near the base. There are 5 stamens with blue anthers. The filaments are fused from just above the base into a tube surrounding the style. The anthers are fused into a ring around the style. The lower 2 anthers are shorter than the others and have white tufts of hair at the tip. The style and filament tube protrude from between the 2 lobes of the “lower” lip and bends downward near the tip. The flowers are not fragrant.

The fruit is a two-chambered, hemispherical capsule with numerous seeds.




8 to 40


Flower Color


Pale blue or white


Similar Species


Kalm’s lobelia (Lobelia kalmii) is a much smaller plant, no more than 16 tall at maturity. The leaves are held erect. Lower leaves are narrower, upper leaves are linear.

Pale-spike lobelia (Lobelia spicata var. spicata) stem is often sparsely to moderately covered with short, curved to spreading hairs near the base, becoming hairless or almost hairless near the top. The leaves are hairless or sparsely covered with straight, stiff, sharp, appressed hairs. The bracts are hairless. The calyx tube is finely hairy or has tiny papillae between the ribs.


Dry. Prairies, forest openings, savannas, streambanks, meadows, pastures. Full or partial sun.




June to July


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



3, 4, 7, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Asterales (sunflowers, bellflowers, fanflowers, and allies)  


Campanulaceae (bellflower)  
  Subfamily Lobelioideae (lobelia)  


Lobelia (lobelias)  
  Section Lobelia (typical lobelias)  
  Species Lobelia spicata (pale-spiked lobelia)  

Subordinate Taxa






Lobelia hirtella


Common Names


pale-spike lobelia

pale-spiked lobelia

palespike lobelia












A small, ear-like projection at the base of a leaf or at the junction of a grass blade and stem.



The upper angle where a branch, stem, leaf stalk, or vein diverges.



Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.



The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube.



A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.



Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.



On plants: A tiny, rounded, nipple-like projection on the surface of a leaf or petal. On mushrooms: A small, raised, sharply pointed projection on the cap above the point of attachment with the stalk.



On plants: the stalk of a single flower in a cluster of flowers. On insects: the second segment of the antennae. On Hymenoptera and Araneae: the narrow stalk connecting the thorax to the abdomen: the preferred term is petiole.



An unbranched, elongated inflorescence with stalked flowers. The flowers mature from the bottom up.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.



A thin, flat, membranous, usually transparent appendage on the margin of a structure.

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Created: 1/8/2014

Last Updated:

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