State Status: Pennsylvania Endangered (PE)
PBS Status: Pennsylvania Endangered (PE)
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S1
Downy Lobelia is an herbaceous perennial with a hairy stem that may grow to 1 m in height. The leaves are alternately arranged, short-stalked or stalkless, egg-shaped to oblong, usually toothed on the margin, rounded at the base and pointed at the tip, and to 10 cm in length and 5 cm in width. The blue flowers, appearing in August and September, are about 1.5-2 cm in length, hairy on the outside, and scattered in an alternating sequence, and often 1-sided, along the middle and upper part of the stem. The individual flowers have a two-lipped appearance, with 3 lower lobes and 2 upper lobes, with the basal part of the flower fused in one tube-like unit. The greenish sepals that subtend the petals have long slender tips and are hairy on the margins. The fruit is pod-like and contains many seeds.
Critically imperiled in the nation or state because of extreme rarity (often 5 or fewer occurrences) or because of some factor(s) such as very steep declines making it especially vulnerable to extirpation from the state.
It grows in moist clearings and openings, grasslands, woods borders, and rights-of-way.
Flowers late August - September
Downy Lobelia ranges from New Jersey to Illinois and south into Florida and Texas. In Pennsylvania, it is considered a southerly species and has been documented historically in the southeastern counties.
The viability of populations of Downy Lobelia often requires maintaining early successional conditions and controlling invasive species. Active management, such as periodic mowing, may be needed to create the proper successional stage and ecological conditions for this species to thrive.
Conservation Status Map
NatureServe. 2017. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available https://explorer.natureserve.org.
- NatureServe. 2018. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available at https://www.natureserve.org/explorer
- Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. 2018.
- Rhoads, A.F. and W.M. Klein, Jr. 1993. The Vascular Flora of Pennsylvania. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rhoads, A.F. and T.A. Block.
- 2007. The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual. 2nd edition. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.