Plants of
South Australia
Lobelia gibbosa
Tall Lobelia,
False Orchid
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 20

Prior names

Lobelia microsperma

Common names

Tall Lobelia

False Orchid


Lobelia, named after Mathias de Lobel (1538-1616), physician to William of Orange and then botanist to James I of England. Gibbosa, from the Latin 'gibbosus', meaning having a hump.

Distribution and status

Found in the southern part of South Australia, from the southern Flinders Ranges to the lower South-east growing in moist places in a wide range of habitats, especially after fires. Also found in Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other States.
Herbarium regions: Flinders Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Erect succulent or semi-succulent ,glabrous annual to 60 cm high, often with a red-tinged. Stem, solitary or several from near base. Leaves linear to narrow-oblanceolate, rarely narrow-lanceolate, to 70 mm long and 5 mm wide; usually reduced toward inflorescence and withered in flower. Flowers bisexual; terminal and sometimes axillary with 4–15 blue flowers; 2 short upper petals and 3 longer lower petals. Flowering between October and March. Fruits are brown ovoid to conical capsule to 9 mm long. Seeds are very small, brown ovoid seed to 0.3 mm long and 0.2 mm wide, with a wrinkled surface. Seed embryo type is linear, under-developed.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and April. Collect mature capsules that are fat, turning a pale straw-colour and containing brown seeds. Can collect individual capsules or break off the whole fruit spike if most capsules are matured. Place the capsules in a tray and leave to dry for one week. Rub the capsules gently by hand to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to separate the unwanted material. Be careful as the seeds are very small. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. From one collection, the seed viability was high, at 100%.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA54,400 (0.37 g)5018-Feb-2007RJB71409
Southern Lofty
BGA265,000 (0.71 g)5021-Nov-2007RJB75731
South Eastern
19-Sep-200890%+5°C, -18°C
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.