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Lobelia: Named after Lobel, pioneer botanist
anceps: From the Latin an- 'two' and caputus 'head', meaning two-faced or two-edged
New Zealand Lobelia, shore Lobelia
Current Threat Status
2012 - Not Threatened
Previous Threat Status
2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened
Lobelia anceps L.f.
Vascular - Native
Lobelia alata Labill
Indigenous. New Zealand: Kermadec, Three Kings, North, South and Chatham Islands. Also present in Australia, South America (Chile) and South Africa
Coastal to lowland. Usually in exposed sites on rocky shores, cobble beaches, cliff faces, at the back of saltmarshes in and around seepages. Also along riversides and around inland lakes and/or in seepages within open lowland forest.
Herb forming diffuse to compact patches up to 400 mm long, with vegetative parts glabrous; sap clear. Stems erect to wide spreading or prostrate, not usually rooting at nodes; branchlets narrowly winged, grooved. Leaves very variable; petioles flat, to c.10 mm long. Lamina submembranous to ± succulent, entire or variously toothed; lamina of lower leaves 10-50 × 5-20 mm, broad-ovate to oblong-ovate, sometimes purplish, decurrent at base. Leaves becoming narrower and petioles shorter above; uppermost leaves sessile, narrow, linear to lanceolate or spathulate, 10-60 × 1-5 mm (sometimes leaf shape varies little from base to shoot apex). Peduncles 2-7 mm long, usually puberulent. Calyx lobes 0.9-1.5 mm long, linear to triangular, acute or acuminate. Corolla 6-10 mm long, white, pale blue (often deeper blue on lower lip), less commonly pale pink; lobes of lower lip 5-8 mm long, linear to oblong. Capsule 6-12 mm long, narrow-clavate to almost cylindric
Recognised by the sprawling to erect stems, entire or toothed fleshy green, yellow-green to red-green leaves, pale blue, mauve to dark blue flowers, and dehiscent, 2-valved narrowly clavate to cylindric capsule
August - May
Main Flower Colour
Other Flower Colour
October - August
Easily grown from fresh seed, stem cuttings and rooted pieces. Some forms are rather colourful. However, as a rule a little non-descript and weedy for most gardens. Kermadec Islands forms have very much wider leaves than other New Zealand plants and are worth further investigation.
2n = 14
References and further reading
Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Government Printer, Wellington.
Webb CJ, Sykes WR, Garnock-Jones PJ 1988. Flora of New Zealand. Vol. IV. Botany Division, DSIR, Christchurch.
This page last updated on 29 Oct 2014