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Lobelia Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Lobelia Flower Meaning and Symbolism

The Lobelia is a sweet plant with colorful blooms, historical medicinal uses, and multiple lobelia flower meanings. There is much debate on the meaning and symbolism of Lobelia, from positive meanings like purity, beauty, love, and devotion to negative associations like arrogance and malice.

About the Lobelia Flower

The Lobelia flower belongs to the genus of the same name containing over 400 species. The Lobelia genus falls into the Campanulaceae family and is found worldwide.

History and Origin

Lobelia flowers are native to temperate (warmer) climates worldwide, except for western Asia and eastern and central Europe.

These flowers got their name from a sixteenth-century botanist Matthias de Lobel and were popular by an illiterate farmer Samuel Thomson (1769 to 1843), from Alstead, New Hampshire. 

Common Names

Lobelia has many common names. Nicknames include vomit wort, puke weed, bladderpod, asthma weed, edging Lobelia, cardinal flower, and gag root. 


Lobelia flowers have five petals, with the upper lip made of two thin upright petals and the other three wide, large petals form the bottom lip. All of the petals join in a long tube of nectar.

Depending on Lobelia type, they can grow from 6” up to 5’. And the foliage is alternate, simple leaves. Flower formation can spike (Mexican spurred lobelias) or form in delicate clusters.

Lobelia Flower Care

Lobelia requires moist, rich, well-draining soil with a pH of 6 to 7.5. They have average water needs and low maintenance with partial to full sun. 

Uses Throughout History

Some Lobelia species have been used medicinally, therapeutically, and ritually. For example, L. inflata and L. nicotianaefolia are two important species that can treat respiratory problems like bronchitis, asthma, whooping cough, and pneumonia. 

Lobelia also has anti-spasmodic, anti-bacterial, and diaphoretic properties that can ease muscle aches, muscle cramps, and menstrual cramps, treat insect bites and act as a sedative. 

It can also be given for seizure prevention to protect the neurons of people with Parkinson’s disease. However, if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or are pregnant or nursing, avoid contact with the plant. 

Most plant parts are usable, like flowers, stems, and leaves. But the intense effects of the plant in pure form make it better to be used in an alternate method like poultices, tinctures, tea, essential oils, powders, or by smoking it. 

Lobelia tea can make cigarettes taste bad, which is useful if you’re trying to stop smoking. Puke Weed (Indian Tobacco), scientifically named Lobelia inflata, is a common herb used for tobacco addiction and used as a tobacco alternative. 

This herb mimics the same pharmacological effects on the brain as nicotine. But it can also be used to cause emesis – vomiting – to eliminate toxins from the body.

Lobelia Flower Symbolism

The Lobelia flower meaning varies by flower color and culture. As a cultural symbol, Lobelia represents healing and protection. They have also been used for dreams, spiritual journeys, and magic spells. 

Etymological Meaning

The name of the Lobelia genus comes from Matthias de Lobel, a famous Belgian physician, and botanist from 1538 to 1616.


When worn as jewelry, Lobelia flowers can symbolize love. The strong connection between the roots can represent a relationship between two people, such as a marriage or motherhood.  


Some cultures consider Lobelia to be associated with prosperity and good luck. 


It can also mean a bond between friends or family members that share an emotional connection.


Lobelia flowers can also have negative means as tokens of darkness and dark times. It can also mean malevolence. 

Lobelia Flower Color Meaning

Lobelia flowers come in various bright petal colors, which have different meanings. 


Blue flowers are symbolic of a kind, gentle, and sensitive person who longs to have peace of mind.


Lobelia flowers in purple can be used for someone unique, regal, and royal.


Pink lobelia flowers symbolize friendship, love, prosperity, and happiness. 


Red flowers can represent passion and deep love. 


Lobelia in white can represent innocence and purity. 

Lobelia Flower FAQ

Find out more about the Lobelia flower with these commonly asked questions. 

What Does a Lobelia Flower Tattoo Represent?

Lobelia tattoos can be symbolic of purity, beauty, and innocence. But, on the other hand, it can also mean a person’s ability to ensure suffering and pain. And many cultures associate a Lobelia tattoo with protection from evil forces and bad spirits.

Are Lobelia Flowers Poisonous?

Some Lobelia flower species have toxic compounds that can harm humans and animals. For example, it can cause vomiting in pets after ingestion. And for people, high concentrations can cause nausea and vomiting, tremors, profuse sweating, diarrhea, drooling, hypothermia, coma, and convulsions.

When are Lobelia Flowers in Season?

Lobelia flowers bloom from spring through fall. 

Are Lobelia Flowers Annuals or Perennials?

Lobelia flowers can be perennials or annuals.

Final Thoughts

Lobelia flowers are lovely small colorful flowers that bloom from spring through fall. These plants come in multiple colors and flower shapes. They have various meanings of love, luck, prosperity, friendship, darkness, and hostility.