Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)

Also known as: Bluebell in Scotland
GenusCampanula (1)
SizeHeight: 15-60 cm (2)

Widespread (3).

The harebell, often known as 'bluebell' in Scotland, is a delicate, beautiful wildflower (4). It is a member of the bluebell family; the name of the genus Campanula derives from the Latin for 'bell', and refers to the shape of the flowers (4). The blue, or rarely white, nodding flowers are papery thin (5), and occur either solitarily or in loose spikes (6). The stems are creeping at the base, with round leaves, hence the specific name rotundifolia, which means 'round-leaved' (4); in contrast, the leaves on the erect part of the stem are long and narrow (2).

Found throughout Britain, but is scarce in southwest England (3). Outside of Britain it is known in north temperate areas, including North America and Eurasia, reaching as far north as 70°N (2).

The harebell is found in a very broad range of dry, open and fairly undisturbed habitats (5), such as grasslands, roadsides, fixed sand dunes, as well as railway and road verges (3). It also tolerates a range of soil pH, and can thrive in acid heaths and calcareous grassland (5).

This perennial species is one of the last flowers of the year (5); the flowers are present from June to October (6). It has thickened, branching, creeping storage stems known as 'rhizomes'; roots grow from the underside of the rhizome, and during the growing season new growth sprouts from buds along the top (5).

This species is not threatened.

Not relevant.

For more information on British plants and their conservation see Plantlife- the wild plant conservation charity:
Visit the website of the Botanical Society of the British Isles at:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (Feb 2003): http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
  2. Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. & Moore, D.M. (1987) Flora of the British Isles. 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Preston, C.D., Pearman, D.A. & Dines, T.D. (2002) The New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. Native Wild Flowers of the North Dakota Grasslands (Feb 2003): http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/literatr/wildflwr/species/camprotu.htm
  5. Mabey, R. (1996) Flora Britannica. Sinclair-Stevenson, London.
  6. Press, B. & Gibbons, B (1993) Photographic field guide to wild flowers of Britain and Europe. New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd, London.