Pineland lobelia is a an annual lobelia that is endemic to Florida and has been recorded in St. Johns County in north Florida from where it ranges south to Collier County on Florida's west coast and to St. Lucie County on Florida's east coast. In the spring of 2005, a single plant was established from a cutting given to me by a native plant acquaintance. The cutting was collected from plants growing in a ditch in Martin County and these plants constituted a new county record since the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants does not list pineland lobelia as occurring in Martin County. I rooted the cutting and, in due course, it flowered and set seed. The seed was broadcast among several potted native plants and a colony of pineland lobelia has thrived at my home ever since.
|Seedling pineland lobelias growing in cracks in my driveway.|
Innumerable plants now come up every year in my potted plants, as well as in cracks in my driveway and in my wildflower beds. Pineland lobelia grows best in open, sunny, moist areas but it will also grow in light to medium shade. In drier spots, it behaves as a winter annual but, if there is sufficient moisture, it will grow year around. Seeds germinate vigorously with the arrival of cool autumn weather and seeds are the most effective way of propagating pineland lobelia. As I mentioned above, it can be grown from cuttings but plants produced from cuttings do not develop normally since they have a tendency to devote all of their energy to flowering and soon seed themselves to death.
Pineland lobelia has limited wildlife value but it is useful for adding a bit of blue color to wildflower gardens as well attracting native bees and honeybees to the garden. So far, it has not been bothered by pests and its only major fault is that it is an annual that dies after flowering. Thus, it is important to let it go to seed and to provide open, moist areas where it can grow without competition from taller and more aggressive plants. Pineland lobelia can be mistaken for bay lobelia (Lobelia feayana) but pineland lobelia grows from a loose rosette and has erect stems whereas bay lobelia has creeping vegetative stems that root wherever they touch the ground.
Images and text © 2013 Rufino Osorio