The evolution of plastid genomes (plastomes) in land plants is typically conservative, with extensive structural rearrangements present in only a few groups. Early Southern blot analysis identified two Lobelia species that minimally required deletion of the plastid gene accD and five inversions to account for their plastome arrangement relative to the ancestral organization. Sixty alternative 5-step inversion scenarios could account for the observed arrangement, but only one scenario was consistent with the criterion of ‘common cause’ attributable to a putative rearrangement hot spot at the accD deletion-site. Plastome sequencing demonstrated that this previously hypothesized inversion order is historically accurate. Detailed reconstructions of the ancestral plastome organization before and after each inversion are presented herein. Stem-loop and disruption-rescue models were evaluated for each inversion. One inversion has an obvious stem-loop basis, but the other four inversions were primarily caused by serial insertion of foreign (extra-plastid) DNA bearing large open-reading frames that disrupted plastome organization at the accD deletion-site, and complete plastomes were rescued by seemingly arbitrary ligation or fortuitous recombination at the other inversion endpoint. Transposed copies of DNA segments from elsewhere in the plastome are frequently inserted at inversion junctions, and four junctions are consistent with the stem-loop ligation model.