Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Longleaf Lobelia - Lobelia elongata   Small
Members of Campanulaceae:
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Section 6 » Order Campanulales » Family Campanulaceae
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AuthorSmall
DistributionFound over nearly all of the Coastal Plain, and extending westward into the southeastern Piedmont -- west to Rowan and Cabarrus counties. Possibly absent in the northwestern Coastal Plain.

This species has a rather small range in the South Atlantic region, from DE and eastern MD south only to the edge of GA. Nearly all records are in NC and SC.
AbundanceThis is a fairly common to common species in the southern part of the Coastal Plain, including the Sandhills region. However, it is infrequent in the central and northeastern Coastal Plain and in the southeastern Piedmont.
HabitatThis is a wetland species found mainly along somewhat flowing waters as opposed to standing waters of marshes and ponded areas. It is most often seen along river and stream margins, less often in ditches and other wetlands. It also occurs along the margins of embayed rivers, including marsh edges, but near flowing water. It prefers shaded or somewhat shaded habitats.
PhenologyBlooms from August to October, and fruits during the same period.
IdentificationThis is one of several wetland species of Lobelia that are quite similar, and thus you must take care in the identification. These species are fairly tall, growing as an erect herb to 2 feet tall, rarely to 3 feet tall, usually unbranched. They have numerous alternate stem leaves. In this species, each leaf is lanceolate to elliptical, about 4 inches long and about 3/4-1-inch wide, with entire to serrated margins (with tiny knoblike teeth). The top 3-5 inches of the stem is a raceme of numerous (20 or more) flowers, each of which is violet-blue to medium blue; the raceme tends to be secund (one-sided). The flower is about 3/4-inch long, tubular and with two lips, the lower with three lobes and extending far beyond the two small upper lobes. The narrow bracts beneath each flower typically have knoblike teeth. In this species, the leaves are thick and stiff, as opposed to thin and flexible in L. amoena, which does not overlap in range but is a montane and southwestern Piedmont species. However, L. georgiana can occur in the same area with L. elongata; that species can be separated by usually thick leaves "with a parchmentlike texture" (Weakley 2018); and some calyx segments usually with small teeth (as opposed to all calyx segments entire and thus no teeth). L. glandulosa often occurs in the same area in the Coastal Plain; that species has very narrow leaves, always under 1.5 cm (3/5-inch) wide. The common L. puberula has a densely pubescent stem, whereas L. elongata has a smooth stem. In summary, this is a thick-leaved species with entire sepals, and leaves wider than 3/4". Also, Sorrie (2011) mentions that this species can be separated from L. glandulosa and L. batsonii by "the denser raceme, the much wider leaves, the longer calyx lobes, and its habitat".
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Streamside Lobelia
State RankS4? [S4]
Global RankG4G5
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