Campanulastrum americanum (American Bellflower)

Plant Info
Also known as: Tall Bellflower
Genus:Campanulastrum
Family:Campanulaceae (Bellflower)
Life cycle:annual
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade; moist open woods, along shores
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:2 to 6 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Loose to densely packed spike-like raceme up to 30 inches long at the top of the stem with smaller clusters arising from upper leaf axils. Flowers are about 1 inch across with 5 blue petals and a creamy-white center ring. The petals have pointed tips, a vein down the center, and wavy or ruffled edges. A long curving style protrudes from the center. Behind the flowers are 5 linear sepals fused at the base.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, 3 to 6 inches long and ½ to 2 inches across, lance to egg-shaped or oval, tapering to a sharp point at the tip. The leaf base tapers to narrow, hairy leaf stalks, abruptly when the base is more rounded. Leaf edges are serrated; the upper surface is rough. Leaves become gradually smaller and more narrow as they ascend the stem. Stems are erect and hairy.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a 3-sectioned capsule, narrowly cone-shaped to cylindrical, up to about ½ inch long, containing many tiny seeds.

Notes:

American Bellflower was known as Campanulastrum americanum, then Campanula americana, and is now back to Campanulastrum americanum. The flowers are more saucer-shaped than bell-shaped as the other Campanula species are, so should not be confused with the others, Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoide) in particular.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Fort Snelling State Park and in Anoka County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka, Houston and Winona counties.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Randall - Ramsey County
on: 2009-07-27 23:00:15

I see these growing amoungst the wood nettles in Crosby Park along the Mississippi in St. Paul.

Posted by: Sue - our back yard on Lake Minnetonka, Hennepin County
on: 2010-07-01 17:49:55

I was surprised to see these growing . Our grandson asked me what kind of flower it was, so I had to look it up. We have several lplants in one area growing.

Posted by: Gullickson - Fillmore County
on: 2011-03-09 10:20:53

We see these in several areas of wooded pasture that we own. Very colorful among the greens of the wooded areas.

Posted by: Peter - Minneapolis Como Neighborhood
on: 2011-07-18 12:30:01

Oh neat! A specimen of this species appears to have volunteered in the midst of my yard's prairie restoration!

Posted by: Tony - Plymouth
on: 2011-07-26 09:39:18

In the backyard I planted the "Shady Woodland" seed mix from Prairie Moon Nursery in the fall of 2009. This year we have tons of American Bellflower.

Posted by: Brian - Dodge County
on: 2011-07-26 14:09:09

Found it next to a prairie restoration site in NE part of county.

Posted by: Charlene - Dakota County
on: 2012-08-21 08:08:47

Spotted in the woods that surround the Sibley House in Mendota.

Posted by: Frank - Saint Paul
on: 2013-08-04 18:50:49

While on the lookout for the European creeping bellflower which I am battling in our yard (it is endemic in our neighborhood), I found one of these native specimens. Hoorah! Thanks for helping me identify it.

Posted by: Nathan - Nicollet County
on: 2014-03-30 13:18:42

Found this last year on the top of the bank of the Minnesota River right next to some Obedient Plant. What a wonderful mixture. This flower is one of the prettiest natives I have seen.

Posted by: Mark - Rice and Dakota Counties - August 2014
on: 2014-08-16 07:11:09

I saw American Bellflower growing in partly sunny openings at the edge of the Cannon River floodplain in Dakota County and in the floodplain of Prairie Creek just south of Cannon Lake in Rice County.

Posted by: Linda
on: 2015-05-29 01:25:28

One of my favorites. So pretty along Jensen Lake in Lebanon Hills Park, tall and blue, after the majority of woodland flowers are done.

Posted by: Anna - Lake Louise state park
on: 2016-07-16 16:55:27

Saw these blooming this weekend at lake Louise state park, abundant in woodland understory along trails.

Posted by: Douglas Owens-Pike - WHEELER, WI
on: 2017-06-03 03:11:28

I could only wish European creeping bellflower be endemic, restricted to, one neighborhood in St Paul. I propose the term epidemic. It is certainly beyond invasive. Difficult to eradicate. Glad to know our native American bellflower is annual. That means I should manage for disturbance around the single plant I observed on our land last growing season. Out in full sun, but fairly heavy, moisture holding clay loam.

Posted by: Michelle C - Winona
on: 2017-07-19 17:25:57

I saw these growing in the bluffs Winona County, Plowline Trail on July 19, 2017. Beautiful

Posted by: Elizabeth T - Carroll's Woods Park, Rosemount MN
on: 2017-08-12 18:09:56

I first thought this was the invasive alien and was delighted to find it was native. This woods (a woodland at the time of the original survey) has treasures!

Posted by: Timothy J - Hennepin
on: 2017-09-20 21:19:56

I suggest you also include purple and pink as a color for this flower in your search engine. Right now it only comes up as blue. The one I photographed today (posted in Botanical Wanderings) seems to me to be somewhere between pink and purple.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-09-21 16:12:28

Tim, tricks of the light can affect color perception, especially when the sun is low, and digital cameras are susceptible to such effects. That seems to be the case with the image you posted on Facebook. American bellflower is pretty consistently blue.

Posted by: Angie - EDEN PRAIRIE
on: 2018-07-02 12:30:29

I agree. They are periwinkle, a shade of purple-blue. You should definitely add them under the purple category for ease in identifying. I have dozens of these and I would not consider a single one of them blue. Nor would my husband. Prairie Moon calls them "blue-violet" if that helps sway you.

Posted by: Linda
on: 2018-11-06 09:11:54

Wondering if anyone can tell me what makes the small holes on bellflower seed capsules or are they naturally occurring? I wanted to collect seeds but found none...just a bunch of empty seed capsules with small holes in them! Thanks for any info!

Posted by: Corey
on: 2020-01-08 07:32:03

I have witnessed the same holes that Linda mentioned while seed collecting. I also would like to know what kind of insect is doing that. See photo here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/coreyraimond/49350915092/in/dateposted-public/

Posted by: Kate - Minneapolis
on: 2020-07-09 12:46:34

Found one of these growing next to creeping bellflower in Minneapolis parkland. I’m glad I just picked one blossom to bring home to identify! I also appreciate the links to the other bellflowers so I could learn the differences. I hope to know the difference in the future between the native and invasive ones!

Posted by: Janene Roessler - Root River State Trail, Isinours, Fillmore County
on: 2020-07-13 18:20:18

In full bloom here in Fillmore County.

Posted by: Janet M Gouvas - Lake Co., MN, CR 15
on: 2020-07-17 15:48:27

On July 14 found in full bloom in a ditch adjacent to an ATV trail.

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