Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell)

Plant Info
Also known as: Bluebell Bellflower, Bluebells of Scotland
Genus:Campanula
Family:Campanulaceae (Bellflower)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, sun; rocky slopes, open woods, meadows
Bloom season:June - October
Plant height:6 to 20 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
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] A loose raceme of 1 to several stalked, mostly nodding flowers at the top of the stem. Flowers are about ¾ inch long, pale blue to violet to bright purple, bell shaped with 5 slightly flaring pointed lobes. A long style protrudes from the center, its tip splits into 3 parts. The calyx is a short tube with 5 spreading, thread-like lobes up to ½ inch long. The calyx and slender stalks are hairless.

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

[photo of basal and lower stem leaves] Basal leaves are up to 1-inch long, round to heart-shaped, hairless, long stalked, and usually wither away by the time the flowers bloom. Edges are toothless, or somewhat scalloped, or with large angular teeth. Stem leaves are alternate, up to 3 inches long, toothless, stalkless, and linear or nearly so. Lower leaves are crowded on the stem and up to 1/3 inch wide but usually less.

[photo of upper stem leaves] Leaves become narrower as they ascend the stem, the upper leaves less than 1/16 inch wide. Stems are multiple from the base, erect to ascending, very slender, unbranched except in the flowers, and usually hairless, sometimes with a few bristly hairs.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a hanging capsule ¼ to 1/3 inch long that ripens from green to rusty brown to dull gray-brown.

[photo of seeds] Inside are numerous tiny brown seeds, oblong-elliptic, slightly flattened, and less than 1 mm long.

Notes:

Harebell is a very hardy plant, often found growing in the barest of soils on bluffs, rock outcrops and the rocky north shore of Lake Superior, as well as in sandy prairies and open woods. It blooms all season long and adds a splash of color to what is often a stark habitat.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Jay Cooke State Park, Carlton County, Wild River State Park, Chisago County, and in Hubbard County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Lake counties.

Comments

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

Posted by: Lisa - Nevis (north central)
on: 2009-08-19 09:30:00

I just love these perfect little flowers. They are numerous along the Heartland Trail where I walk. I never get tired of looking at them!

Posted by: Carol - Duluth
on: 2010-02-09 08:47:39

This is an incredible hardy plant. I have seen them growing along the north shore in cracks between rocks and even in cracks in bluestone retaining walls along the Duluth Lakewalk. I bought some seed-grown harebell from a local grower (Boreal Natives I think) and planted it amoung chunks of bluestone on our front hill and it did great, blooming a long time each summer, though most recently it is less vigorous due to competition from pearly everlasting and large-leaved aster. Great site!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2010-02-09 09:30:42

There is harebell growing in the cracks and crevices on the bluff walls at Battle Creek Park in St Paul, too. I was surprised to see it there where nothing else seemed to grow, but now it seems not such an unusual place to find it after all.

BTW, I was species steward for harebell at Wild River State Park last year. I think it would make a great garden plant just about anywhere. I saw it blooming June through September (though an individual plant doesn't necessarily bloom the entire season) and does well enough in full sun to near full shade, but seems to prefer part shade. And the flowers are beautiful, of course!

Posted by: Amanda - Star Island
on: 2010-07-08 11:26:12

find these growing on Star Island in Cass Lake

Posted by: Dianne - Longville
on: 2012-06-17 14:14:25

Found these growing along the shores of Woman Lake, which is in Cass County. Such perfect little bells!

Posted by: Wanda - Bloomington
on: 2013-06-27 12:50:34

These are growing prolifically in my back yard and I have no idea where they came from. I have mostly blue ones, but there are also some pure white ones. I will be separating them soon and sharing them with friends and neighbors!

Posted by: Brett - Otsego
on: 2013-10-12 20:18:11

Saw one blooming in Itasca State Park near mid October!

Posted by: Brian - St. Peter
on: 2014-02-18 20:07:06

It blooms over a very long period - I saw it in bloom at Rushford Sand Barrens SNA in October 2012. It's interesting to see that it was also in bloom at Itasca during the same period.

Posted by: kris - Lake Shore
on: 2014-08-07 22:14:53

Harebells grow in the ditches everywhere here. Sandy, dry, and sunny. It amazes me that such a delicate looking plant is hardy enough to survive droughts and downpours.

Posted by: Keith - Blanket Flower SNA
on: 2014-08-21 21:55:38

This was in bloom in a variety of locations on the SNA.

Posted by: Gabriel - south Minneapolis
on: 2015-04-21 14:54:14

I've seen these in the cliffs along the Saint Croix like many people, and in the Rocky Mountains out west, where it grows in thick clumps with many, many flowers.

I planted one in the garden a few years ago. I highly recommend it. Unlike the evil creeping bellflower, it stays in a tight little clump, which gets bigger every year. It blooms all summer and fall if you deadhead it. Some of my clumps are the size of ones in the Rocky Mountains, with lots of flowers. I love it.

The seeds are tiny, almost like dust, so they don't grow unless they're in an undisturbed moist spot without taller plants around them. I suspect that's why the plant grows in cliffs. It doesn't need sandy soil or rocks to grow; it does just fine in deep, loose loamy garden soil, as long as you plant in a mature plant and don't try to grow it from seed.

Posted by: Daniel - Cushing area
on: 2015-07-12 16:54:05

Found it growing in my back yard on the pile of gravel dirt we use as a backstop for shooting firearms. Very pretty purple flower on these glad it is not a noxious weed from what I found.

Posted by: Lynea - N. of International Falls close to shore of Rainy Lake.
on: 2016-04-15 22:44:08

I observed and photographed this plant in bloom close to the shore of Rainy Lake north of International Falls, Mn on July 5, 2007.

Posted by: Jeanine - Voyaguer's National Park - Kabetogama Penninsula
on: 2016-08-07 08:31:42

I saw these on 7/20/16 while hiking the Locator Lake trail in Voyageur's National Park. They were growing in part shade along the trail in the woods. I had planted some in my garden this spring in a partly shady area and now realize this plant also grows in full sun and in rocky outcrops so will move some to a boulder retaining wall with more sun and see how they do.

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