Wildflower alert

by Eleanor Dietrich

Shortleaf lobelia

We have thirteen different kinds of lobelias that grow in northwest Florida. Even if you don’t know the species of lobelia, you can usually tell it’s a lobelia by the shape of the flower. It is tubular with five lobes that form two lips; the lower lip has three lobes and fans out, the upper lip has two smaller lobes that may be erect or turned back. Most of our native lobelias are either blue, white, or blue with white throats. This particular lobelia (Lobelia brevifolia) is the only one that has many short and sharply toothed leaves, making it easier to identify. The flowers may be different shades of blue, from light to dark. It blooms from July through November in damp open areas.