Lobelia inflata has long been used by the Penebscot Indians (native to coastal Canada and northeastern Unites States) for shamanistic rituals. Later in history, Samuel Thomson took credit for discovering Indian Tobacco. As with common tobacco, Indian tobacco is primarily used for relaxation. But it also has uses in treating asthma and bronchitis, repelling bugs, and it is a good natural way to relieve respiratory and muscular disorders. The active ingredient is called Lobeline, which has been used in the treatment of drug addictions to stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine. In treating asthma and bronchitis, it can be made into an ointment or taken internally as an expectorant. When burned, its bug repelling properties are activated.
It is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant, usually appearing in mid summer and continuing to grow into the fall. It grows to be 15-100 cm tall, and its stems are covered with tiny hairs. The leaves are usually about 8 cm long, egg-shaped and toothed on the edges. Its flowers are violet with tints of yellow on the inside. The bulb below the flower makes it easy to identify. It is hermaphrodite, having both male and female sex organs and the ability to be self-germinate.
Also known as: Indian Tobacco, Asthma Weed, tabac indien, indianischer Tabak, Lobelie, lobelia, tabaco-indiano, hierba del asma, tabaco indio
Growing Information: Indian tobacco is best sown in containers in mid spring or fall. Sow the seeds on the surface of a moist, well-draining mix. This species grows in well-draining soil but has been known to grow in wetlands. Germination takes about 2 weeks. Indian Tobacco grow best in full sunlight but can also flourish in moderate shading; areas shaded up to 20%. Cuttings can also be taken from established plants as another means of propagation.
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