Lobelia inflata is an annual or biennial herb which grows up to three feet tall. It has hairy green stems touched with violet that branch at the top. The leaves are light green or yellow-green, and have a sharp taste and an acrid, irritation scent similar to that of tobacco. The flowers are pale violet on the outside, and pale yellow on the inside (umm.edu n.d.). The plant is native to North America, ranging from southern Canada to Georgia and west to Arkansas and Kansas.
L. inflata is unusual in that the seeds need light to germinate, not darkness. The seeds are sprinkled on wet soil and barely pressed down. They must be watered from beneath or with a light mist on top. When sproutlings are three months old, they may be potted or transplanted to an area with rich soil and full sun or partial shade. Plant material is best harvested when the seed pods are just beginning to form. Dry in a well ventilated space away from direct sunlight (Roth 2004). Cultivated plants have been found to contain twice as many active alkaloids as wild plants (Krochmal et al. 1972).