Lobelia spicata Lam.

Locations ofLobelia spicata Lam. in Virginia

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Botanical Name
Lobelia spicata Lam.
Common Name
Pale-spike Lobelia
Flora of Virginia Name/Status
Lobelia spicata Lam. var leptostachys (A. DC.) Mackenzie & Bush + L. spicata Lam. var. scaposa McVaugh + L. spicata Lam. var. spicata
The map contains all records for the species and two varieties, var. scaposa McVaugh, and var. spicata. Many Virginia herbarium records have not been identified to variety, and only incomplete maps for the two vars. are available at this time. Note that a third variety formally recognized in Virginia, var. leptostachys (A. DC.) Mackenzie & Bush, has been lumped with var. spicata. In their recent editions, Flora of the Southeastern U.S. has lumped all vars. and recognizes only the species. This apparently follows Spaulding and Barger (2019, Phytoneuron 2016-76: 1-60), who consider L. spicata a polymorphic species and state "the characters used to separate various varieties .... intergrade within populations, making these infraspecific taxa arbitrary." In Virginia populations, at least some of the variation has more coherence. We agree with Spaulding and Barger that var. leptostachys and var. spicata often intergrade and are likely not worthy of recognition. However, var. scaposa is very distinctive with its basally disposed leaves and pale flowers. Although it is sympatric with var. spicata in the central Piedmont, the two form discrete populations, never seem to co-occur, and intermediates are rare. This seems like ample justification for an infraspecific rank, even if some intermediacy occurs in some populations.
As a whole, the species grows in dry-mesic to dry forests, woodlands, barrens, and clearings in a variety of soils. It is frequent in the mountains and Piedmont, rare in the inner Coastal Plain, and absent from the outer Coastal Plain.
Native Status

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