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Manitoba Museum

Bluebell (Campanulaceae)

Spiked Lobelia

Lobelia spicata Lam.

This prairie perennial tends to be short-lived and does not have an obvious floral scent. Visitors to the small white flowers seek their nectar. Pollination is mostly carried out by hummingbirds and long-tongued bees. Small butterflies, skippers, and flies have also been observed visiting the flowers. The leaves and stems contain toxic white latex, and plants are poisonous to humans if eaten in large quantities.

Flower Colour:

  • White

Flowering Season:

  • Summer

Flowering Months:

  • August
  • July
  • June

Canadian Rarity Status:

Not rare. Listed as “may be at risk” in Alberta and Nova Scotia, and “exotic” in Quebec and New Brunswick.

Physical Appearance:

The unbranched stems grow 20–120 cm tall. Narrow, alternate, lance to oval-shaped leaves are stalkless with smooth or widely-toothed edges and occur mostly on the stem’s lower half. The tubular white flowers (7-50+) occur in a long, open to crowded spike. Each flower has a smaller 2-lobed upper lip, a larger 3-lobed lower lip, and a 5-toothed, tubular calyx. Fruits are capsules that release numerous, tiny, oval-shaped seeds.

Similar Species:

Kalm's Lobelia (Lobelia kalmii L.)

Gardening Notes:

Seeds and/or plants may be available from greenhouses and seed supply companies specializing in native plants. Can be propagated by seed. Plants are a good addition to bird, woodland, and prairie gardens.

Canadian Distribution:

  • Alberta
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan

Prairie Types:

  • Mixed Grass Prairie
  • Tall Grass Prairie


  • Open Woodlands
  • Prairies
  • Savannahs

Moisture Conditions:

  • Dry
  • Moderate
  • Moist

Light Preference:

  • Full Sun
  • Part Shade

Soil Preference:

  • Clay
  • Loam
  • Sand
Spiked Lobelia