Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Nuttall's Lobelia - Lobelia nuttallii   J.A. Schultes
Members of Campanulaceae:
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Section 6 » Order Campanulales » Family Campanulaceae
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AuthorJ.A. Schultes
DistributionThroughout the Coastal Plain and the eastern half of the Piedmont; also present in parts of the southwestern Piedmont and the southern Mountains, in counties adjacent to SC and GA.

This is a Southeastern species, ranging from southeastern NY south to western FL and AL, and inland to southeastern KY and eastern TN.
AbundanceCommon in the southern half of the Coastal Plain, and frequent in the northern portions. Fairly common in the eastern Piedmont, ranging to uncommon in the central portions and the southwestern portions; rare to uncommon in the southern Mountains.
HabitatThis is a species mostly of acidic soils, in a variety of habitats. It favors pinelands, such as pine savannas, pine flatwoods, pocosin margins, sandhills seeps, and moist edges of pinelands. It can occur in swamp and bottomland openings, ditches, and other wetlands, as well as seemingly dry (or seasonally wet) clearings.
PhenologyBlooms from May to frost, and fruits soon after flowering.
IdentificationThis is one of three very similar Lobelia species with very slender stems and narrow leaves, quite different from most of the other more robust species. This is a very slender, erect species, smooth, and usually branched in the upper portion. It has scattered alternate leaves, about 1-2 inches long but narrow, about 1/10-inch wide. However, in this species, the lower leaves tend to be narrowly oblanceolate and not simply just linear. The raceme of flowers is quite open and about 4-6 inches long, with small light to medium blue flowers and a white center. In this species, the flower stalks are very slender but are about as long the equally slender bract beneath it. This species does have a bracteole at the base of each bract, as does L. canbyi, whereas the very similar L. boykinii does not. The flowers of all three are similar, and each is about 1/3-1/2-inch long, most of that being the narrow floral tube, though they do have flaring lobes. Another key separating character is that L. boykinii leaves are filiform and barely measurable in width, and they usually drop by flowering; the other two have linear leaves (though barely 1/10-inch wide), but they are persistent through flowering. This species and L. canbyi are quite numerous, at least locally, and the main separation characters are that L. canbyi has the lower lip of the flower pubescent inside at the base of the throat, whereas L. nuttallii is glabrous there; and L. canbyi has sharp hairs on the pedicels and calyx but L. nuttallii has none or hairs mostly lie flat. Study the lower leaves carefully, as this species can have some width to them, whereas L. canbyi leaves are all needle-like; this can be readily observable if you pay attention to this part of the plant. You may have trouble separating these two species, unless you have a hand lens!
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS5
Global RankG4G5 [G5]
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