Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata)

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Wild Flowers of Sleepy Hollow Lake
Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata)
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(Indian Tobacco - 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 - 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 - 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 - 03)  This is another look at an Indian tobacco raceme.






(Indian Tobacco - 04)  This is a close up look at a faded Indian tobacco flower and the swelling seed pod.






(Indian Tobacco - 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 - 06)  We like this photo because it gives the Indian tobacco seed pod an ethereal look.





(Indian Tobacco - 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 - 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 - 09)  This is another look at the tip of an Indian tobacco leafy raceme.






(Indian Tobacco - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 14)  Indian tobacco flower buds and spider webs.








(Indian Tobacco - 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 - 15a)  In this photo, we can see the hairy stem and leaf edge of the Indian tobacco.






(Indian Tobacco - 16)  This is a close up look at the new growth on an Indian tobacco plant.





(Indian Tobacco - 17)  Another look at the Indian tobacco.







(Indian Tobacco - 18)  Another look at an Indian tobacco plant.






(Indian Tobacco - 19)  Another view of an Indian tobacco flower and buds.







(Indian Tobacco - 20)  Another look at an Indian tobacco flower.






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Presented here are just a few of the countless components of God's creation.  Just as we cannot have human and animal life without water and plants, neither can we have lasting peace without love and compassion.  It is our hope and prayer that this series will motivate people to live and act in a cruelty-free manner; that we would no longer hurt or destroy each other, the animals or our environment.

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