Isotoma petraea - Rock Isomome

Family: Campanulaceae
Genus: Isotoma
Species: petraea
Main Flower Colour: Mauve


Erect, spreading annual or perennial, herb, (0.1-)0.2-0.6(-1) m high. Fl. blue/blue-purple, Feb to Nov. Shallow soils over granite. Amongst rocks, breakaways, in rock crevices, rocky outcrops.


The main flower colour is mauve.


Isotoma petraea is a small perennial herb from the Lobeliaceae family, native to the dry interior of Australia. It is found on rocky outcrops and caves, often on granite. Also known as Rock Isotome, wild tobacco, tundi-wari, minekalpa and pulbawari. The whole plant contains a white sap which can be irritating to the eyes. We found this when collecting it near Broken Hill in strong wind (stinging eyes).

Aborigines chewed the dried plant in the same way as Pituri, for its narcotic and stimulant effects. Mixed with Acacia ash, it was used as a painkiller and for colds.

Alkaloids with nicotine like action are present, thought to be either lobeline or another piperidine alkaloid. Bioassays of dried leaves have found the taste almost identical to real Pituri and a strong narcotic effect similar to having too much nicotine. It could very well be used to quit smoking but toxic effects are not known. Smoking the leaves has less of an effect and the smoke is almost tasteless.


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Bio Regions

Great Victoria Desert (GVD)

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