T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Lobelia anceps (Punakuru)

Kingdom: Plantae
(Unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Eudicots
(Unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Campanulaceae
Family: Lobeliaceae
Genus: Lobelia
Species: L. anceps
Scientific name: Lobelia anceps
Synonym: Lobelia alata, Dobrowskya anceps, Dortmanna anceps, Enchysia repens, Laurentia repens,
Common name:  Punakuru, Swamp lobelia, Angled lobelia, New Zealand lobelia, Pūrao

Lobelia anceps is a very widespread species, not only in New Zealand and the Kermadec/3 Kings/Chatham Islands but also it occurs in Australia and southern Africa as well and it has become naturalized in Brazil. It was collected by Joseph Banks in New Zealand in October 1769. The genus name Lobelia commemorates Matthias de l'Obel, a Flemish nobleman (1538–1616) who was a botanist and physician to James I of England. The specific name anceps is derived from a word meaning two-edged; flattened.
Lobelia anceps is a small low prostrate to ascending sparsely branched perennial sprawling plant that will ramble near the ground and some of the branches can become erect and may reach a height of 1 metre, even taller if growing up through other vegetation. Erect stems have 3 very narrow wings along their length while the prostrate ones only have 2. Plants may be smooth or softly hairy. 
The soft, toothed leaves are narrow to spoon-shaped and broader towards the base. They range from 1–5 mm wide and 6cm long.
It mainly flowers in the warmer months (September to May but sporadic flowering may also occur at other times. The small flowers are blue/blue-purple/white. They occur in the axils of the upper leaves. The corolla tube is split to the base between the upper 2 petals which are tiny and stand upright while the lower 3 are much larger, forming a fan shape. The stamens are shorter than the corolla tube and the lower 2 anthers have a brush-like tuft of white hairs at their tips. The fruit is a capsule containing a number of small seeds.
Lobelia anceps grows in sun or shade but requires a moist soil in exposed situations, so is usually encountered around seepage areas, wet or boggy areas, swamps, lakes, streams, etc.

Photographed at Te Kainga Marire Gardens at Spencer Place



The underside of a leaf.