Spreading Bellflower; Campanula patula

Spreading Bellflower is an attractive delicate wildflower with lots of little harebell like flowers.

Compared to other bellflowers it does spread out a bit more but the name spreading for me conjures up a plant that spreads across the ground rather like thyme or the way clover creeps through your lawn. Well I can’t really speak for your lawn, but mine certainly has clover spreading though it.  No this bellflower grows up with several stalks and as such spreads out by comparison to the single stalk of Nettle-leaved bellflower, but it is upright and not floppy or procumbent as the common name suggests.

As with Nettle-leaved Bellflower I can’t remember having seen it in the UK. so again these photos were taken in France. However in contrast to Nettle-leaved Bellflower, this one grows quite happily out in the bright sunshine. I usually see it growing beside the road and sometimes in the shade by a hedge or tree, but also completely out in the open. I think it is fairly rare in the UK.

Well I have checked it out on Wikipedia and according to them …….‘It grows on grassy places, dry hills, meadows, in deciduous and pine forests, woods, fields and roadsides, along railway lines and hedgerows, preferably in partial shade, in dry to moist sites and on clay soils, relatively rich in nitrogen, at an altitude of 0–2,000 metres (0–6,562 ft) above sea level. It also occurs in cultivated fields as a weed.’

So that sounds like it grows …….everywhere, maybe not on the beach or in the dunes. But not in the UK.

Also there is a lot of stuff on the internet about how invasive it is such as this site Attention gardeners   which surprises me as it is not that common.

There is another related Bellflower called Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides), this is more of a garden plant but escapes do occur so you might find it in the countryside. It can be distinguished from Spreading Bellfower in that the splits between the petals are less deep. Those of the Spreading Bellflower cut back into the bell by more than half the length, this is clearly illustrated in the photo above. Also the individual bells of  Spreading Bellflower stick out at right angles from the stem or even pointing upwards. However the bells of Creeping Bellflower hang down.

 

 

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