Bellflowers

Trailing Bellflower Clustered Bellflower Peach-leaved Bellflower Rampion Bellflower

What are they?

The bellflowers form the bulk of the family Campanulaceae and get their name from the bell-shaped (campanulate) flowers of many of the species. Most are low to medium-sized, herbaceous perennials or biennials with leafy stems and showy, blue flowers.

Where are they found?

This is quite a diverse bunch of plants and habitat choice can be useful in the identification process. Some are of garden origin and may be found growing in urban environments, especially from cracks in old walls. Others may turn up on waste ground or roadsides. Our native species are plants of sunny, grassy places, or shady banks.

Identification

Most species can be identified by a combination of flower shape (especially how deeply divided the petals are) and leaf shape, as well as the overall appearance of the plant - whether it is upright or trailing, single-stemmed or forming colonies. Note that, in many species, the basal leaves and stem leaves are different in shape so both should be checked.



Common Harebell      Campanula rotundifolia

Native. Widespread on poorer soils throughout the region but lost from many areas where agricultural practices have changed soil conditions. Flowers July to September. Sometimes found as single individuals, but often forms small colonies of plants. Small and delicate, 15-50cm in height with rounded basal leaves and linear stem leaves.

Common Harebell Common Harebell Common Harebell Common Harebell
Habit
Habit
Flowers
Flower
Common Harebell Common Harebell Common Harebell
Basal leaf
Stem leaf
Sepals


Trailing Bellflower      Campanula poscharskyana

Introduced as a garden plant from SE Europe and quite commonly recorded in urban locations, growing on walls. Flowers June to August. A trailing plant with coarse, hairy leaves. Flowers pale blue, with petals split more than half way to the base and appearing star-shaped when fully open.

Trailing Bellflower Trailing Bellflower Trailing Bellflower Trailing Bellflower
Habit
Flowers
Flower
Flower
Trailing Bellflower Trailing Bellflower Trailing Bellflower Trailing Bellflower
Leaves
Leaves
Leaves
Leaf


Adria Bellflower      Campanula portenschlagiana

Introduced as a garden plant from SE Europe and recorded in scattered, urban locations, growing on walls. Flowers June to November. A trailing plant with more or less hairless leaves. Flowers violet-blue, with petals split less than half way to the base.

Adria Bellflower Adria Bellflower Adria Bellflower Adria Bellflower
Habit
Flowers
Leaves
Leaves


Peach-leaved Bellflower      Campanula persicifolia

Introduced from mainland Europe as a garden ornamental and commonly self-seeds onto grassy banks and walls. Flowers June to August. An upright plant to 80cm in height. Stem leaves much longer and narrower than the basal leaves, all with shallowly toothed margins. Flowers pale blue or white, relatively large and broad.

Peach-leaved Bellflower Peach-leaved Bellflower Peach-leaved Bellflower Peach-leaved Bellflower
Habit
Flowers
Flower
Flower
Peach-leaved Bellflower Peach-leaved Bellflower Peach-leaved Bellflower Peach-leaved Bellflower
Flower
Basal leaves
Basal leaf margin
Stem leaf


Canterbury-bells      Campanula medium

Introduced from southern Europe as a garden ornamental with just a handful of records of garden escapes in our region. Flowers May to July. An upright plant to 80cm in height. Leaves broadest at the base, becoming progressively narrower up the stem and all somewhat hairy on the veins and undersides. Flowers blue or white. Seed capsules inflate distinctively as the seeds develop.

Canterbury-bells Canterbury-bells Canterbury-bells Canterbury-bells
Flowers
Flower
Stem leaf
Seed capsules


Clustered Bellflower      Campanula glomerata

Native on chalky grassland but also grown as a garden ornamental. Uncommon and largely confined to Breckland and Cambridgeshire in our region, but may occasionally be found as a garden escape elsewhere. Flowers May to August. An upright plant to about 30cm in height, but often taller in garden forms. Stem leaves much narrower than the basal leaves, all roughly hairy. Flowers purple-blue in native plants, but various shades of blue or white in garden forms.

Clustered Bellflower Clustered Bellflower Clustered Bellflower Clustered Bellflower
Habit
Habit
Flowers
Flowers
Clustered Bellflower Clustered Bellflower Clustered Bellflower Clustered Bellflower
Flowers
Basal leaf
Stem leaf
Stem leaf


Nettle-leaved Bellflower      Campanula trachelium

Native in woodland on chalky soil, frequent towards the south and west of the region but also occasional elsewhere as a garden escape or rare native. Flowers July to September. An upright plant to 50-100cm in height. Leaves coarsely toothed and with a narrow stalk (compare with Giant Bellflower), stems sharply angled.

Nettle-leaved Bellflower Nettle-leaved Bellflower Nettle-leaved Bellflower Nettle-leaved Bellflower
Habit
Habit
Flowers
Flower
Nettle-leaved Bellflower Nettle-leaved Bellflower Nettle-leaved Bellflower Nettle-leaved Bellflower
Flower
Flower
Basal leaf
Stem leaf


Giant Bellflower      Campanula latifolia

Native in damp, undisturbed woodland but rare, with some records perhaps being of garden escapes. Flowers July to August. An upright plant to 50-120cm in height. Leaves lightly toothed and with the blade running into the stalk (compare with Nettle-leaved Bellflower), stems bluntly angled.

Giant Bellflower Giant Bellflower
Lower stem leaf
Seed capsule


Creeping Bellflower      Campanula rapunculoides

Introduced as a garden ornamental from mainland Europe and occasionally appearing as a garden throw-out in grassy places and rough ground. Forms colonies of stems from creeping root systems but doesn't seem to persist for more than a few years in the wild. Flowers July to September. An upright plant to 30-80cm in height. Flowers narrowly bell-shaped with sepals spreading outward or even reflexed on mature flowers.

Creeping Bellflower Creeping Bellflower Creeping Bellflower Creeping Bellflower
Habit
Flowers
Flowers
Flowers
Creeping Bellflower Creeping Bellflower Creeping Bellflower Creeping Bellflower
Flower
Reflexed sepals
Colony of basal leaves
Leaf


Rampion Bellflower      Campanula rapunculus

Introduced as a garden ornamental from mainland Europe but seemingly less popular these days and there has been no records since the 1980s. Flowers July to August. An upright plant to 30-80cm in height. Flowers pale blue with broadly spreading petals, carried in an upright spike.

Rampion Bellflower Rampion Bellflower Rampion Bellflower Rampion Bellflower
Habit
Flowers
Flowers
Flowers


Spreading Bellflower      Campanula patula

Introduced as a garden ornamental from mainland Europe but seemingly less popular these days and there has been only one recent record (in Cambs in 2006). Flowers July to September. An upright plant to 20-70cm in height with slender stems. Flowers pale blue with broadly spreading petals, carried in a many-branched, spreading head.

Spreading Bellflower Spreading Bellflower Spreading Bellflower Spreading Bellflower
Habit
Habit
Flowers
Flower
Spreading Bellflower Spreading Bellflower
Sepals
Leaf