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Toxic parts

Some reports say that the plant is poisonous[1][2][3], whilst another says that toxicity has not been established[4]. It contains the alkaloid lobeline which has a similar effect upon the nervous system as nicotine[5]. See also the notes below on medicinal uses.

Edible uses

There are no edible uses listed for Lobelia inflata.

Material uses

The plant has been burnt in order to smoke out gnats[6].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Indian Tobacco was a traditional North American Indian remedy for a wide range of conditions[7]. Nowadays it is used mainly as a powerful antispasmodic herb in the treatment of respiratory and muscle disorders[7]. Acting also as a respiratory stimulant, Indian Tobacco is a valuable remedy for conditions such as bronchial asthma and chronic bronchitis[7].

The dried flowering herb and the seed are antiasthmatic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant and nervine[8][1][9][10][4][11]. The plant is taken internally in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough and pleurisy[12]. This remedy should be used with great caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[1][9][4]. Excess doses cause nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and respiratory failure[12]. See also the notes above on toxicity. The plant contains the alkaline 'lobeline' which has proved to be of value in helping people to give up smoking tobacco[1][13][14]. It is contained in many proprietary anti-smoking mixtures where it mimics the effects of nicotine[12]. The alkaloids present in the leaves are used to stimulate the removal of phlegm from the respiratory tract[14]. When chewed, the leaves induce vomiting, headache and nausea - in larger doses it has caused death[14]. The alkaloids first act as a stimulant and then as a depressive to the autonomic nervous system and in high doses paralyses muscular action in the same way as curare[14]. Externally, the plant is used in treating pleurisy, rheumatism, tennis elbow, whiplash injuries, boils and ulcers[12].

The whole plant is harvested when the lower fruits are ripe and it is used fresh or dried[12].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow spring or autumn in situ. The seed usually germinates within 2 weeks.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Lobelia inflata. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in full sun or light shade[13]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a slightly acid soil[12].

Plants are usually annual, but are sometimes biennial[8].

This species is occasionally cultivated commercially as a medicinal plant[10][15].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Lobelia inflata. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Lobelia inflata.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Lobelia inflata
Imported References
Edible uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type

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    1. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
    2. ? Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-262-7 (1979-00-00)
    3. ? Stary. F. Poisonous Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-35666-3 (1983-00-00)
    4. ? Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
    5. ? Diggs, Jnr. G.M.; Lipscomb. B. L. & O'Kennon. R. J [Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas] Botanical Research Institute, Texas. (1999-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.1 Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    7. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    8. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    9. ? Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    10. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
    12. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    13. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    14. ? Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
    15. ? Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
    16. ? Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany. American Book Co. (1950-00-00)

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    "image:Lobelia_inflata_-_Köhler?s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-218.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    Facts about "Lobelia inflata"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyCampanulaceae +
    Belongs to genusLobelia +
    Has binomial nameLobelia inflata +
    Has common nameIndian Tobacco +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has fertility typeSelf fertile +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has imageLobelia inflata - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-218.jpg +
    Has lifecycle typeAnnual +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useRepellent +
    Has mature height0.6 +
    Has mature width0.3 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAntiasthmatic +, Antispasmodic +, Diaphoretic +, Diuretic +, Emetic +, Expectorant +, Miscellany + and Nervine +
    Has primary imageLobelia_inflata_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-218.jpg +
    Has search namelobelia inflata + and indian tobacco +
    Has shade toleranceLight shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy +, Clay + and Heavy clay +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy nameLobelia inflata +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedYes +
    PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedNo +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
    Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Lobelia inflata +, Lobelia inflata +, Lobelia inflata +, Lobelia inflata +, Lobelia inflata +, Lobelia inflata +, Lobelia inflata +, Lobelia inflata + and Lobelia inflata +