Campanula cervicaria (Bristly Bellflower)

Plant Info
Also known as: Bristly Bluebells
Family:Campanulaceae (Bellflower)
Life cycle:biennial, short-lived perennial
Habitat:sun; moist to dry meadows, woodland edges
Bloom season:July - August
Plant height:1 to 2 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

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: bell Cluster type: flat

[photo of flowers] Tight clusters at the top of the stem and in upper leaf axils. Flowers are ½ to ¾ inch long, blue to violet, bell-shaped with 5 fused lobes that are oblong with pointed tips. Short erect hairs are scattered along the outside lobe edges and the midvein, The calyx is about ¼ the length of flower tube, fused with 5 blunt lobes and bristly hairs on the outer surface. 5 stamens are retained in the tube with a style, 3-parted at the tip, extending beyond the lobes. Short, broad, leafy bracts with bristly outer surfaces wrap the base of clusters.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of basal leaves] Leaves are 6 to 8 inches long, basal leaves with winged stalks, the blade narrow lance to spatula shaped, withering away at flowering. Stem leaves are few, alternate, becoming smaller, stalkless and more lance-linear as they ascend the stem. Leaf edges are irregular with rounded teeth and are often wavy.

[photo of stem leaves] The lower leaf surface has short, bristly hairs, especially along the edges and midvein; the upper surface hairs are more scattered. Stems are unbranched, with sharp vertical ridges and densely covered in bristly hairs.


Campanula cervicaria is native to Scandinavia and central Europe where it has become vulnerable in parts of its range. Not widely known or purveyed in the horticultural trade, somehow it has made its debut into the wilds of North America in Lake and St. Louis counties of Minnesota, and to-date, no where else. It is notably similar to another European bellflower - C. glomerata, clustered bellflower, that is widely traded and has also naturalized in the Duluth area. Unfortunately, both are likely to spread over time. Clustered bellflower can be distinguished by its broader lance shaped leaves that are clasping on the upper stem. The flowers are also larger, to over 1 inch long, calyx teeth sharply linear and overall, it is much less hairy.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken along Highway 61 in St. Louis County


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

Posted by: Monica - Hennepin County
on: 2014-06-30 12:43:46

Theodore Wirth Park, Eloise Butler Wildlife Sanctuary, Minneapolis, MN. Small stand in "prairie" area, higher elevation than other parts; soil still damp however from high rainfall. Blooming on 06/26/14. ~1m in height. Naturalist at Sanctuary mentioned that they'd had a controlled burn in that area early this spring. Have photo.

Posted by: Ian - Ramsey County
on: 2015-06-26 13:07:20

Confirming Monica's sighting of this plant in Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden (7.5.2014). Snapped a photo of it too.

Posted by: Arthur G. - Duluth
on: 2016-09-19 04:15:30

Saw several individuals (in fruit) along the road at Hawk Ridge on September 12. A remarkably harsh and hispid plant.

Posted by: Jeffrey F - Superior National Forest
on: 2017-01-04 14:53:32

I found this growing along a snowmobile trail east of Scott Junction, between Kinney and Whyte Creeks. One very dense patch and three other small patches dispersed. Main patch is marked on EDDMapS

Posted by: Nancy S - Little Falls
on: 2017-06-21 21:01:57

They showed up in our back yard a couple years ago -at least it looks like it and fits description except it's a deep purple

Posted by: Barbara L - Lake County; T63N, R11W, Sect13
on: 2017-07-09 14:32:31

From a few plants to 100s in just a couple years. First noted in 2014. Found on a sunny, south-facing slope, clay-rich soils. I'm trying to control with hand pulling - plants, including most(?) of the root pull easily from damp ground as flowers are beginning to bloom (early July here). Hard to ID when plants are small, before flower clusters start to form. Plants/root do not pull easily later in summer, so I cut off the flower heads (of the ones I missed pulling) so they don't go to seed. I have lots of photos.

Posted by: Joe O - Minnesota Hill
on: 2017-07-13 15:42:54

We have a small patch growing in a rock garden in our yard. No clue how or when it got there.

Posted by: Rita K - Isanti/Cambridge
on: 2017-09-04 14:36:23

I just saw these this weekend along the bike trail between Isanti and Cambridge. They are beautiful. They are gorgeous in a vase.

Posted by: Nora B - along mt. bike trail near Hawk Ridge Observatory
on: 2017-11-04 22:29:37

spotted several individuals upslope of trail, 10-16-2017

Posted by: Duane Madison - Highway 61 going NE from Duluth on freeway
on: 2018-07-23 09:37:40

This seems to be the origin in the US for Bristly Bellflower. I suspect that there was Scandinavian immigrant farming close to Duluth on the Lake Superior North Shore and the plant could have been for packing material when moving to the US in the early 1900. When the freeway was built and the old farms leveled the seeds would have been dispersed along the embankment on the North side of the freeway. It appears to adapt readily to the same poor soils that lupines thrive in. Like the lupines it shows up as sparsely in shady woodlands. I see no reason for removal. We have no productive farm land in this area and it is easily eliminated with mowing. D. Madison

Posted by: Josette Koets - Pine County, hwy 18, 3 miles west of Finlayson
on: 2019-07-21 23:52:45

Have just read that this is very invasive, and flower heads should be cut before they seed.

Posted by: John Lawrey - Near Bergquist Road Duluth
on: 2019-08-02 00:52:03

Looking over an old farmstead today, came across this flower, which was a new one for me. Found it growing in several places throughout the forty acres.

Posted by: Barbara L - Two Harbors
on: 2021-04-12 20:40:06

Bristly bellflower continues to spread despite my efforts to control it. Mowing does not control the spread, instead it assumes a low-growing aspect and the flowers bloom on 3-4" stalks rather than 18-24" stalks. Roots are easily pulled out early in the spring when the frost has just gone out of the ground. Deer browse the flowers. I suspect that birds may carry the seeds as we have a small infestation in our woods >.25 mile from the hillside where the plants have spread widely.

Posted by: David - WRENSHALL
on: 2021-07-05 11:45:31

Found on MN-23 near the BNSF RR bridge near Jay Cooke State Park. A few individuals only growing on the east side of the highway.

Posted by: Hope Flanagan - Hinckley
on: 2022-07-07 22:32:07

I saw a large colony of bristly bellflower east of the Hinckley Grand Casino on the North side of the road.

Posted by: Julie Schad - Duluth area, south St Louis County
on: 2022-07-28 13:29:16

I see these on road sides in northern MN, , especially in areas along Hwy #4 ((Rice Lake Road) out of Duluth. They can be seen on the sunny side of the road, especially on hillsides. First noticed them in the mid 1990's. they seem to be in dry areas/ hillsides loving the sun. They are not big and voluptuous like a lupin patch, but rather are spindly, not growing in clumps and having scarce foliage. I found a couple way back in the woods on a logging trail a couple days ago, in the middle of no where!

Posted by: Sunfish - Dakota County Park, Lebanon Hills
on: 2023-04-22 08:11:26

Becoming common in Dakota County Park, Lebanon. Spreading in afforested landscapes where native vegetation has been eliminated by dense shade and excessive biomass accumulation.

Posted by: Jessy Carlson - Cook County - Hovland
on: 2023-07-17 16:53:32

This grows along my road, near Hovland MN, in Cook County. It's in a large patch of other non-native plants near an old abandoned farmhouse. I suspect there was once a flower garden between the road and the house, and the bellflowers, together with sneezewort, lily of the valley, and tiger lilies, are spreading up and down my road every time the road graders come through.

Posted by: Mary Dailey - Two Harbors area, Lake County
on: 2023-07-20 21:02:03

Found one plant in a sunny area in a patch of daisies, orange hawkweed, and lupine.

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