Campanula rapunculoides (Creeping Bellflower)

Plant Info
Also known as: Rampion Bellflower, European Bellflower
Genus:Campanula
Family:Campanulaceae (Bellflower)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:Eurasia
Status:
  • Invasive - ERADICATE!
Habitat:shade, sun; deciduous woods, fields, along roads, disturbed areas
Bloom season:June - October
Plant height:1 to 3 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 Flower shape: bell Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Flowers are arranged in a long raceme along one side of the stem at the top of the plant. Individual flowers are about 1 inch long, nod slightly, and bell-shaped with 5 pointed lobes that may have sparsely hairy edges. Inside the bell are 5 curly yellow stamens and a protruding style with a divided, curled tip. Flower color is blue to blue-violet. The bracts at the base of the flower has 5 narrow pointed lobes that fold back away from the flower. The raceme can grow to more than half the length of the plant.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves have fine, coarse teeth, a rough texture, are generally heart-shaped, becoming smaller and proportionately narrower as they ascend the stem. Lower leaves are up to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide with stalks to 6 inches long. Leaves near the top of the plant have little or no stalk. The stem is also rough from stiff hairs and is often purple, especially near the base of the plant. Plants grow erect or leaning.

Notes:

Creeping Bellflower, a European import popular in the garden industry, readily escapes cultivation and can quickly become invasive, spreading both from seed (up to 15,000 per plant!) as well as its root system. It is a miserable plant and very difficult to eradicate once established. Herbicides such as Round Up are recommended by many, but are often ineffective; digging the all the tubers out may be your only hope. Any missed roots will resprout and you'll have to begin again. The Wisconsin DNR has a fact sheet available that may be of help.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.

Comments

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

Posted by: Judy
on: 2009-05-01 19:05:22

This plant is terrible. It takes over and chokes out other plants. I even have it coming up on my lawn. Beware!!!

Posted by: Gerry - Bloomington
on: 2009-05-16 11:31:41

I have been trying to eradicate this weed from my garden for about 10 years. I have taken to digging deep in the soil when I find one, and removing the large root. Roundup seems to have no effect whatsoever. I have fewer of them now, but have to stay vigilant to keep them from taking over!

Posted by: Mary - St. Louis Park
on: 2009-09-29 12:19:33

Very good description of this beautiful but very hard to eradicate "wildflower". Thanks for posting this info.

Posted by: Jen - Duluth
on: 2010-02-05 19:04:55

These are great descriptions and pictures. Could there be a link included to a website that describes methods for control and eradication? I would imagine that there are members of MNPS that would have at least a couple great sites.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2010-02-05 23:21:49

While the DNR and MN Dept of Ag have some info about control for some species, Creeping Bellflower isn't on their lists and I am not aware of anyone with the NPS (local or national) that covers the subject either.

If you come across a good site I would be very interested, though! In the meantime, if you have some that needs eradication your best bet is probably through your local Soil and Water Conservation District. See the invasive species page for more info.

Posted by: Ellen
on: 2010-04-24 15:16:39

The way I have been killing them is by digging deep to get rid of the tubers. These plants are tricky -- the tubers are connected to the surface by thin, fragile roots, so it's easy to pull up and think you've gotten it, without affecting the taproot at all. I've found that it's necessary to dig very slowly and gently, with a dandelion puller, to remove the roots intact and be certain I've found all the tubers.

Posted by: Ben - Hopkins
on: 2010-04-30 23:30:15

link to control info via UofM extension

Posted by: Debbie - St. Louis Park
on: 2010-08-27 21:14:02

This "pretty" plant is quickly taking over where we have been working hard to control buckthorn in an area along Minnehaha Creek. Our buckthorn managed area has been overrun with this creeping bellflower, burdock, dame's rocket, curled dock and a host of other invasives-it's very disheartening :(

Posted by: David - Lake Minnetonka, Hennepin County
on: 2011-05-30 22:01:43

Having the same experience as Debbie in St. Louis Park. Cleared an area of buckthorn on Lake Minnetonka and Creeping Bellflower is moving in. It's by no means taken over and has much to compete with as the area has been led to grow natural. Is there any reason I should be concerned?

Posted by: Sue - Alexandria: Lake Darling
on: 2011-07-13 10:03:58

I made the mistake of encouraging this beautiful weed next to my cabin. Now it's coming up in my steep slope lakeshore restoration and I can't reach it!

Posted by: Erin - big lake
on: 2011-07-16 22:30:23

I bought a plant from a nursery nearby that looks just like this. That was 5 years ago and it is very much taking over my garden. My father-in-law told me it was invasive but I ignored him. Same as the other comments, the roots are impossible to dig all out. Thanks for the info!!

Posted by: Marge - Columbia Heights
on: 2011-07-18 12:03:58

2 of these plants appeared in our yard this year. I will try to remove them immediately! Thanks for your wonderful website!

Posted by: Diana - NE Minneapolis
on: 2011-08-06 21:12:04

As Judy's 2009 post says, this plant is terrible. It is growing along alleys, in boulevards, and alongside houses all over the city. To get rid of it, you must carefully use a pitchfork to loosen the soil, a small dandelion tool and your fingertips to find where the root is, and get out all the root. Then I think really you should burn it. I have put it into the trash, rather than into the garden recycling system.

Don't confuse it with the other campanulas - there is a native campanula - Campanula Rotundiflora - which has the same purple flower, but a tiny plant, feathery leaves, and only a few flowers per plant. It's found in Northern Minnesota along Lake Superior. I am growing some in my front yard (while battling the neighbor's rapunculoides non-stop). Nothing will out-compete campanula rapunculoides. If you do nothing else, cut it down before it flowers.

Posted by: Maja - St. Paul
on: 2012-05-04 09:57:51

Aha! Finally, a creeping bellflower support group. I thought I had carefully dug up a thick patch of this stuff a few years ago when we moved into our house in St. Paul. It grew back year after year, through all the other perennials I'd planted, despite trying to stay on top of weeding. I've given up and plan to smother the bed with wet newspaper mulch and compost. Advice: make sure the roots of this plant are completely gone before you replant a weed patch.

Posted by: Tasha - Minneapolis (Whittier)
on: 2012-05-10 20:54:31

This plant is turning into my personal nemesis. We bought a house two years ago that already had a very well established periwinkle bed in the front and this sneaky scourge is slowly taking over all of it. My neighbors are having the same issue. It's in beds, lawns, it even seems to grow in dirt. My biggest problem is that I can't dig in the bed, besides there is so much of it in other parts of the property, I would be busy for weeks if I tried to dig each pant up with the roots. We tried Roundup (once, because I strongly dislike it) to little avail. So I keep pulling and mulching (where applicable) in the hope that I'll exhaust it.

Posted by: KJ - Stillwater
on: 2012-05-16 19:30:36

This plant is steadily marching up our street via boulevard flower beds, it crawls along the sidewalks and old retaining walls and is now invading our lawn in big patches. My neighbors seem to be clueless. It is a pretty flower in bloom, but looks scraggly when it goes to seed, and if you are a gardener you won't enjoy it once you realize how pesky it is. I have tried to deadhead any flower stalks before they set seed, the seed pods can form quite low on the stalk so it needs to be cut at the ground, and the stalk can regrow and form more flowers, so you still have to go back and make sure there are no additional flowers/seed pods forming. I bag the stalks and roots and send them out in the trash. Do not compost any part of this plant! I have dug it out of a contained boulevard bed/rock garden that was surrounded by concrete walkways (how did it get there?) and thoroughly dug and sifted the soil, kept that area bare for 2 seasons and still it comes back, probably from small root pieces I missed- lots of fine roots plus fleshy storage roots 6 or more inches deep. The roots grow under and around rocks. I will wait to replant that bed with perennials until I am sure there is no more. I think it might make it even harder to control by trying to dig it all out, and the roots just travel under mulch. I prefer to not use chemicals in my garden or lawn, but I am now experimenting with Roundup in selective non lawn areas, and Fertilome Weed Free Zone (has dicamba) in lawn areas. I have read that it is resistant to 2,4-D. So far I'm finding it will take multiple applications, and treatment timing is very important. This spring I am also finding it appearing in other parts of our property in isolated spots, so it may also be spread by animals, birds, lawnmower, even found some growing in last fall's leaf compost pile, so I'm wondering if bits of the stem or leaves can also sprout. It can sneak in unnoticed and without invitation. It has even jumped across our driveway to the boulevard bed upstream from us! My aim is to create some sort of treatment "moat" so it will have trouble getting across to the rest of our gardens and lawn. Will keep looking for it, and experimenting with what works best to get rid of it before it gets into my wildflower and perennial borders. From what I've seen so far it's going to be very tough to control.

Posted by: Linda - Kasota
on: 2012-06-22 06:56:09

I just noticed these pretty purple flowers blooming in my hedge a few days ago. I have never noticed these on our property before. It took me a while to find this site & I'm so glad I did because I was going to dig them up & move them to my perennial garden--what a disaster that would have been!!! Thank you everyone for all the good advice on how to eradicate these weeds. I'm planning on carefully digging them out today.

Posted by: Shelly - Wisconsin
on: 2012-06-28 12:01:15

I hate this plant it is taking over my yard! I have been fighting it for years and am loosing, now my sister-in-law has planted one at my parents house! I am not happy! I found this link and will be trying to kill it with these chemical suggestions. I have my fingers crossed. :o(

http://www.invasiveplants.ab.ca/Downloads/FS-CreepingBellflower.pdf
Chemical:1 Glyphosate is effective for spot applications; dicamba can be used for broadcast application such as lawns. Creeping bellflower is resistant to 2,4-D.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2012-06-28 12:36:30

Shelly, the University of Wisconsin also has some good info on creeping bellflower control measures, as well as a number of other invasive species in our area. Good luck with your eradication!

Posted by: Ellen - Edina (Twin Cities)
on: 2013-03-07 10:07:10

Lately in my yard this plant has been losing ground, especially in sunny areas, to some kind of orange fungus and to native blue violets. I don't know whether this is also partly due to drought or what, but I'm planning on spreading the fungus and violets to every part of our yard that is infested with the bellflowers. The violets form thick matts that seem to choke out bellflowers. If you have this see if you can get native blue violets to compete with it.

Posted by: Sandi - Spicer
on: 2013-07-12 11:27:08

Several years ago when my mother was visiting she called this plant a weed. I told her that the bees really liked it so I ignored her and have lived to regret it! Unless you go after it EVERY day, it will soon spread and take over large areas. It is also in our neighbors lawn which borders my flower garden and popping up in unlikely areas often overlooked when I'm on an eradication mission. I hate chemicals and don't want to resort to them as we are by a lake but I haven't been able to even make a dent in these horrible plants. The orange fungus mentioned above, could that be rust that has cedar as its host plant? I've noticed that buckthorn is infected with the rust (not enough to kill it) and wonder if that could be a method of killing the nasty invader. Apple trees are also susceptible. Any ideas on getting rid of c. b. would be appreciated!

Posted by: Kathy - Rice County
on: 2014-05-11 08:15:47

Does it feed the bees?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2014-05-11 20:55:14

Whether it feeds the bees or not, there are far better options for the home garden than this invasive pest. It's displacement of native species, which are in fact good for pollinators, outweighs any marginal value it might have.

Posted by: Marie - Mpls
on: 2014-05-26 19:59:50

I always thought this plant was called European bellflower. The very odd thing I have noticed that dogs- especially German & English hunting breeds love to eat the leaves. (w/o any ill effects) one year I was determined to pull out every plant I saw- & keep any others mowed down to lowest level. I found the dogs really searching for them & w/o fail- they sniffed out a tiny tiny leaf somewhere to chew!

Posted by: Sarah - Medina
on: 2014-06-17 09:54:51

I have a patch I have been trying to kill for years under a pine tree. Funny, like Marie, I have noticed that my german shepherds LOVE to eat this plant. Too bad I cant teach them to eat the whole thing. I may have finally succeeded killing it this year... I mixed a stronger mixture of glyphosate in my sprayer and completely wetted the leaves of the whole patch. I have found that the commercially mixed roundup/glyphosate for the home landscape is indadequate to kill most invasive species. (I have 6 acres riddled with invasives inc. buckthorn) I now buy the most concentrated form I can buy and mix it myself in a tank sprayer or use it straight to paint on cut roots (i.e. buckthorn).

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2014-06-17 12:00:29

I would just be careful with herbicide use. Did you know mixing your own higher concentration than what the label specifies is actually illegal? I would also be concerned about long-term effects high concentration of herbicides (glyphosate in particular) have on the soil, and the surrounding plants, and the insects that feed on them.

Posted by: Sharon - Minnetonka
on: 2014-07-02 11:45:01

I have a huge patch of it under and within my lilac, hydrandeas,flox mums,stella daylillies! I could cry! I guess I need to throw everything in the garbage, use glyphosate, and then attemp to dig up the tubers. Right?

Posted by: Frank - St. Paul, Ayd Mill Road rail corridor and surrounding area
on: 2014-07-10 19:14:37

Everywhere you look....

Posted by: Starr - Linden Hills-Minneapolis
on: 2014-07-12 14:50:25

Kill this plant if it grows in your yard! (or try) I call these unstoppable monsters "Evil White Carrots" because they have an enormous carrot like root that rapidly spreads underground, killing even the hardiest species with ease. Bad, bad, bad plant!

Posted by: Sharon - Minnetonka
on: 2014-07-24 09:19:20

I understand that killing this weed can require several applications over several years. Can you tell me how long I should wait after treating the weed with glyphosate before repeating the treatment? How many times in one season?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2014-07-24 10:47:39

Sharon, check the links posted in some of the other comments for treatment information.

Posted by: R. Palmer - McIntosh
on: 2014-11-20 20:09:58

I have battled these weeds for years and found the only way to get rid of them in flowerbeds it to dig up everything, at least a foot down or sometimes deeper to get to the big taproot. When I lived in International Falls I took a sample to the soil & water person for identification and they didn't know what it was. I've finally found out and am thankful that this plant is finally recognized as invasive.

Posted by: Carmine - Minneapolis
on: 2015-05-25 10:51:37

Here's another good link on eradicating creeping bellflower and a MN native alternative to plant in its place: http://nativeplantwildlifegarden.com/a-native-alternative-to-invasive-creeping-bellflower/

Posted by: Jay - Oakdale
on: 2015-06-03 20:23:31

I have sprayed it for 2 years I it's growing just as good as ever. My lawn man sprayed it & it's wilting but I don't think it will kill it. It will just come back. I've been digging it out trying to get the tap root. a week or so later I go back & dig it out where it's coming up again & finding more big tap roots. My yard is full of it & it killed out my wild flower garden. I think I will die before I get rid of it & now it's coming up in my neighbors yards. When I do dig it out & get the roots how can I kill it so it doesn't spread more. I don't want to put it into a compost as it will just spread more.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-06-03 21:03:04

Jay, check out some of the links in the other comments for info on eradication.

Posted by: Richard - St. Paul
on: 2015-07-07 10:55:50

This really saddens me. When the plant first showed up I was very excited. I have been purposefully growing this for the past two years...it grows in a location that I have had no luck growing anything (and have spent hundreds of dollars purchasing numerous plants). It looks so beautiful, prevents any weeds and my neighbors love the way I have turned around the "ugly" spot in my yard. Now I have to pull it all up....

Posted by: Jen G - St. Paul
on: 2015-07-16 09:56:46

Crap, I have a ton of these flowers and always thought they were beautiful...the bees love them. I guess I have to pull them up. *sigh*

Posted by: Kimberlee - White Bear Lake
on: 2015-07-21 13:43:25

My God the pretty flower vine I found growing under my black raspberry bushes (and through the garage window and across the entire width of the garage) sounds like something right out of a Stephen King best seller! Now I'm frightened for my raspberry bushes. There's something coming up all around the bushes--upright stems no flowers. Sounds like it's time to get some Holy Water and do an exorcism!

Posted by: Betty
on: 2016-04-26 12:44:19

I have used 10% vinegar (cleaning vinegar) which is easier on the environment. Spray in the morning of a sunny day. It will kill the grass and other weeds too, but is fast and keeps the green foliage from supporting the roots. I also have recently covered a 10 x 10 foot area with plastic hoping to keep light and moisture out and maybe over a year or two eradicate it.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2016-04-26 17:35:05

Vinegar does not kill perennials, it only damages the above ground parts that have direct contact with it. Maybe that weakens the plant over time but it is not as effective as glyphosate, which is absorbed into the roots to kill it outright. I personally hate black plastic and cringe every time I see it used as an "environmentally friendly" weed killer. If there were a way to recycle the stuff it wouldn't be so bad, but in the end we're just adding more non-degradable plastics to landfills. Not good.

Posted by: Sharon - Bemidji
on: 2016-05-02 17:41:04

I'm going to try straight vinegar or a borax solution to eradicate this noxious weed. Wish me luck.

Posted by: ZENNA - Zim
on: 2016-05-30 16:45:52

Six years ago a relative gave me creeping bellflower when she mistook it for ladybells, or something like that. She informed me the next year she was wrong. I had only a few growing at the time. Now they are in my yard, four feet from the garden. I am finally going to try to dig them out and use a famous liquid killer. They choked out my (Asclepias tuberosa) Butterfly milkweed flowers.

Posted by: Eileen - Maple Grove
on: 2016-07-26 06:05:20

I'm relieved to have it finally identified. Gorgeous flowers. Quickly fills a troubled spot. But like many of you, it's out of control. I covered the area with black plastic. I plan to leave it covered until next year. I may have to expand the black plastic as I've seen the huggers shoot up near the plastic borders. I'll peek under the plastic next year and am now prepared to think I may have to hire a backhoe and have the entire section dug out, going very deep, and bring in new soil. I'll provide update next year. Keeping my fingers crossed but after reading all the comments, I'm now not so sure the black plastic idea will even work.

Posted by: Gina - Little Falls
on: 2016-07-27 16:29:36

I have these things everywhere! My house was abandoned for a few years when we bought it so nobody was pruning or weeding. UGH I thought they were pretty but seemed to find them in almost every flower bed. I have been pulling them for 5 years! They don't stop coming up. Now I have them in my day lily bed!!! Almost all of my neighbors have them so I thought everyone was sharing plants...guess I should have looked here sooner. :(

Posted by: Kari - Perham
on: 2016-08-03 12:34:11

Found it growing under some pine trees in the back yard.. wasn't sure what it was. disappointed I did not find a 'fun' flower.

Posted by: Brad t - Rochester
on: 2016-09-20 02:13:32

But the bees do love it, it's all over the city. Saw some by Bear Creek, beter go dig it out now before it gets away, but those seeds?

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