Giant Lobelia Deckenii

April 7, 2012 by staff 

Giant Lobelia Deckenii, Lobelia deckenii is a species of giant lobelia of the mountains of East Africa. It grows in moist areas, such as valley bottoms and moorland, in contrast to Lobelia telekii which grows in a similar, but drier habitat. These two species produce occasional hybrids. Lobelia deckenii plants often produce multiple rosettes, and plants with more rosettes flower more frequently. It is iteroparous.

Lobelia deckenii plants usually consist of between one and eighteen rosettes, connected underground. Individual rosettes grow slowly in the alpine environment. Individual rosettes may take decades to reach reproductive size, then die after flowering, but the connected rosettes live on.

Lobelia deckenii is the only alpine species of lobelia that lives on Kilimanjaro.

Lobelia deckenii ssp. keniensis is the variety of Lobelia deckenii that lives on Mount Kenya, between 3,300m and 4,600m (10,800 – 15,100ft). It less eaten by rock hyrax than Lobelia telekii, which occurs more often in hyrax habitat. Lobelia species on Mount Kenya are all pollinated by birds, especially the Red-tufted Sunbird (also known as the Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird) and the Alpine Chat.

This species of giant lobelia is known for the reservoirs of water held in its rosettes, which freeze at night and protects the apical meristem held in a dense central leaf bud. When this reservoir is drained, the temperature of inner meristem drops below freezing, which does not occur when the fluid is left intact. The crescent-shaped ice cubes formed in these rosettes give rise to the nickname, “Gin-and-tonic Lobelia”.

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