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Lobelia inflata

Lobelia inflata

1887 illustration
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Campanulales
Family: Lobeliaceae/Campanulaceae
Subfamily: Lobelioideae
Genus: Lobelia
Species: L. inflata
Binomial name
Lobelia inflata

Lobelia inflata (Indian Tobacco) is a species of Lobelia native to eastern North America, from southeastern Canada (Nova Scotia to southeast Ontario) south through the eastern United States to Alabama and west to Kansas.[1]

It is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant growing to 15–100 cm tall, with stems covered in tiny hairs. Its leaves are usually about 8 cm long, and are ovate and toothed. It has violet flowers that are tinted yellow on the inside, and usually appear in mid summer and contine to bloom into fall.[2]

Cultivation and uses

Lobelia inflata has a long use as an entheogenic substance. The plant was widely used by the Penebscot Indians and was widely used in the New England even before the time of Samuel Thomson who was credited as discovering it. Indian Tobacco is still used today. The most potent part of the plant is the seed as it contains the most lobeline, the main ingredient which gives the plant its pyschoactive property. It is sold widely in online herbal shops, and is prized among ethneogen users. Its taste is reminiscent of real tobacco, acrid and burning, and it promotes the heavier flow of saliva. A common misconception is that when smoked it yields a euphoric "high" like feeling, when it actually produces a more relaxant like effect. It can be used fresh, or dry.

Lobelia inflata is also used by herbalists for treatment of asthma, hence its other nickname, asthma weed. Some make ointments of the plant to use externally.

It is also said that plant material is burned as a natural bug repellent to keep away insects such as mosquitoes.


Propagation is usually accomplished by cuttings or seed. Seeds are sown in containers in mid spring or mid fall. The seeds take about 2 weeks to germinate.


  1. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network: Lobelia inflata
  2. ^ Caldecott, T. Western Materia Medica: Lobelia inflata (pdf file)
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Lobelia_inflata". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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