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Harebell Campanula rotundifolia


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Alternate name: Bluebells-of-Scotland

Family: Campanulaceae, Bellflower view all from this family

Description Blue-violet bell-shaped flowers hang singly or in clusters along the top parts of nodding, thread-like, mostly unbranched stems that grow in small patches.
Habit: native perennial herb; one or several stems, sprawling to weakly ascending.
Height: 4-20 in (10-50 cm) or more.
Leaf: at base, heart-shaped to broadly oval, stalked, edges wavy to toothed, usually withering by flowering; on stem, alternate, narrower, 0.5-3 in (12-75 mm) long.
Flower: bell-shaped, blue to blue-violet to lavender to rose-pink, sometimes nodding, 5-parted, 0.5-1.25 in (12-32 mm) long; in loose terminal clusters of 1-5 flowerheads.
Fruit: small nodding capsule.

Flower June to October.

Flower June - September

Habitat Dry to mesic sites with sandy or well-drained soil: rocky slopes, meadows, woods, shorelines, cliffs, cultivated hayfields and roadsides; to 13,000 ft (4000 m); also cultivated as an ornamental.

Range Throughout North America, except the southeast and parts of the south-central U.S.; not reported in Nevada, or Kentucky, or from South Carolina to Florida to Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

Discussion Also known as bluebell blueflower. Protected in New York and Ohio.

The genus name, from the Latin campana (bell), means little bell. The name Harebell may allude to an association with witches, who were believed able to transform themselves into hares, portents of bad luck when they crossed a persons path. In Scotland, another old name for this plant was Witches Thimble. The characteristics of this perennial vary considerably, depending on habitat conditions.

Among other common species are the Southern Harebell (C. divaricata), with wider leaves and smaller, white or pale lavender flowers, typical of wet, grassy meadows. The common garden Bellflower (C. rapunculoides), which frequently escapes from cultivation, has flowers usually borne on one side of the stems and lanceolate or heart-shaped leaves.

Comments Harebell is easily cultured and does well in a variety of sites including rock gardens. Flowers are long lasting.

Exposure Preference Partial sun to sun.

Native Distribution Circumpolar, s. to Maryland, n. Indiana, n.e. Iowa, Nebraska & n. California; also s. in mts. to Texas & n. Mexico

Site Preference Moist, rocky, mt. slopes; dry meadows & prairies; open woods; limey cliffs; beaches

Soil Preference Sandy, well-drained soils.