Scientific name

Lobelia L.

Common names

cardinal plant



Could be confused with

Littorella, Samolus

Native distribution


Species commonly cultivated

Lobelia cardinalis L. (Central and North America)

L. dortmanna L. (North America)

L. purpurascens R. Br. (Australia)

Adventive distribution

information not available

Weed status

information not available


erect, amphibious rosette and stem plant

Brief description

Perennial or annual. Stem compact or becoming erect and elongate when mature (in many species). Leaves alternate, sessile or petiolate; leaf blade lanceolate, obovate to linear, entire or serrate. Inflorescence a raceme. Flowers white, purple, red or blue; sepals triangular; corolla tubular, lobes 5, 2-lipped, split adaxially to base; abaxial lobes spreading and reflexed, adaxial lobes erect. Dispersal by seed.

Natural habitat

shallow water, damp ground

Additional comments

Most Lobelia are terrestrial plants. Only L. dortmanna is strictly aquatic, although L. cardinalis easily grows submersed for extended periods.