Campanula rotundifolia, the harebell, Scottish bluebell, or bluebell of Scotland, is a species of flowering plant in the bellflower family Campanulaceae. This herbaceous perennial is found throughout the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. In Scotland, it is often known simply as bluebell. It is the floral emblem of Sweden where it is known as small bluebell. It produces its violet-blue, bell-shaped flowers in late summer and autumn.
Campanula rotundifolia is a slender, prostrate to erect herbaceous perennial, spreading by seed and rhizomes. The basal leaves are long-stalked, rounded to heart-shaped, usually slightly toothed, with prominent hydathodes, and often wither early. Leaves on the flowering stems are long and narrow and the upper ones are unstemmed. The inflorescence is a panicle or raceme, with 1 to many flowers borne on very slender pedicels. The flowers usually have five (occasionally 4, 6 or 7) pale to mid violet-blue petals fused together into a bell shape, about 12–30 mm (15⁄32–1+3⁄16 in) long and five long, pointed green sepals behind them. Plants with pale pink or white flowers may also occur. The petal lobes are triangular and curve outwards. The seeds are produced in a capsule about 3–4 mm (1⁄8–5⁄32 in) diameter and are released by pores at the base of the capsule. Seedlings are minute, but established plants can compete with tall grass. As with many other Campanula species, all parts of the plant exude white latex when injured or broken.
The flowering period is long and varies by location. In the British Isles, harebell flowers from July to November.: 250  In Missouri, it flowers from May to August; in Minnesota, from June to October. The flowers are pollinated by bees, but can self-pollinate.
Campanula rotundifolia was first formally described in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus. As of November 2019[update], no varieties or subspecies of Campanula rotundifolia are accepted in Plants of the World Online. Several species have been previously described as varieties or subspecies of C. rotundifolia:
- Campanula alaskana (Campanula rotundifolia var. alaskana or hirsuta)
- Campanula giesekiana (C. r. var. dubia or var. groenlandica)
- Campanula intercedens (C. r. var. dentata or intercedens)
- Campanula kladniana (C. r. subsp. kladniana)
- Campanula macrorhiza (C. r. var. aitanica or alcoiana)
- Campanula moravica (C. r. subsp. moravica)
- Campanula nejceffii (C. r. var. bulgarica)
- Campanula petiolata (C. r. var. petiolata)
- Campanula ruscinonensis (C. r. var. ruscinonensis)
- Campanula willkommii (C. r. subsp. willkommii)
Elsewhere in Britain, "bluebell" refers to Hyacinthoides non-scripta, and in North America, "bluebell" typically refers to species in the genus Mertensia, such as Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells).
Distribution and habitat
Campanula rotundifolia occurs from Spitzbergen, extending in mainland Europe from northernmost Scandinavia to the Pyrenees and the French Mediterranean coast. It also occurs on the southern coasts of Greenland, on Iceland and on southern Novaya Zemlya. It is not found in Canada (see other Campanula species, such as Campanula alaskana).
It occurs as tetraploid or hexaploid populations in Britain and Ireland, but diploids occur widely in continental Europe. In Britain, the tetraploid population has an easterly distribution and the hexaploid population a westerly distribution, and very little mixing occurs at the range boundaries.
C. rotundifolia is more inclined to occupy climates that have an average temperature below 0 °C in the cold months and above 10 °C in the summer.
In Iceland, research on Campanula rotundifolia has revealed that it is a host of at least three species of pathogenic fungi, Coleosporium tussilaginis, Puccinia campanulae and Sporonema campanulae (and the teleomorph Leptotrochila radians).
- With fairest flowers,
- Whilst summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele,
- I'll sweeten thy sad grave: thou shalt not lack
- The flower that's like thy face, pale primrose, nor
- The azured hare-bell, like thy veins; no, nor
- The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander,
- Out-sweeten’d not thy breath.[note 1]
Christina Rossetti (1830–1894) wrote a poem entitled 'Hope is Like A Harebell':
- Hope is like a harebell, trembling from its birth,
- Love is like a rose, the joy of all the earth,
- Faith is like a lily, lifted high and white,
- Love is like a lovely rose, the world’s delight.
- Harebells and sweet lilies show a thornless growth,
- But the rose with all its thorns excels them both.
Emily Dickinson uses the harebell as an analogy for desire that grows cold once that which is cherished is attained:
- Did the Harebell loose her girdle
- To the lover Bee
- Would the Bee the Harebell hallow
- Much as formerly?
- Did the paradise – persuaded
- Yield her moat of pearl
- Would the Eden be an Eden
- Or the Earl – an Earl
- In Jessica Kerr's and Opelia Dowden's Shakespeare's Flowers published in 1970 they infer that Shakespeare was actually making reference to Hyacinthoides non-scripta.
- "Campanula rotundifolia". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew – via The Plant List.
- Brouillet L, Desmet P, Coursol F, Meades SJ, Favreau M, Anions M, Bélisle P, Gendreau C, Shorthouse D, and contributors (2010+). "Campanula rotundifolia Linnaeus". data.canadensys.net. Database of Vascular Plants of Canada (VASCAN). Retrieved 21 November 2019.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- "Sveriges nationalblomma". 13 March 2021.
- Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for Gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. ISBN 184533731X.
- Stace, C. A. (2019). New Flora of the British Isles (Fourth ed.). Middlewood Green, Suffolk, U.K.: C & M Floristics. ISBN 978-1-5272-2630-2.
- Stevens, C.J.; Wilson, J; McAllister, H.A. (2012). "Biological Flora of the British Isles: Campanula rotundifolia". Journal of Ecology. 100 (3): 821–839. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2012.01963.x.
- Blamey, M.; Fitter, R.; Fitter, A (2003). Wild flowers of Britain and Ireland: The Complete Guide to the British and Irish Flora. London: A & C Black. ISBN 978-1408179505.
- Jeffree, E.P. (1960). "Some long-term means from the Phenological reports (1891–1948) of the Royal Meteorological Society". Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. 86 (367): 95–103. Bibcode:1960QJRMS..86...95J. doi:10.1002/qj.49708636710.
- Tenaglia, Dan. "Campanula rotundifolia page". Missouri Plants. Missouri Botanical Garden.
- Chayka, Katy; Dziuk, Peter (2016). "Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell)". Minnesota Wildflowers. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
- "Plants of the World Online". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanical Gardens Kew. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
- Miller, W. (1884), A Dictionary of English Names of Plants: Applied in England and Among English-speaking People to Cultivated and Wild Plants, Trees, and Shrubs, J. Murray
- Quattrocchi, U. (2012), CRC World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Synonyms, and Etymology (5 Volume Set), Taylor & Francis, ISBN 9781420080445
- Anderberg, Arne. "Den Virtuella Floran, Campanula rotundifolia L." Naturhistoriska riksmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.
- Brouillet L, Desmet P, Coursol F, Meades SJ, Favreau M, Anions M, Bélisle P, Gendreau C, Shorthouse D, and contributors (2010+). "Campanula Linnaeus". data.canadensys.net. Database of Vascular Plants of Canada (VASCAN). Retrieved 16 May 2020.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- McAllister, H.A. 1973. The experimental taxonomy of Campanula rotundifolia L. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Glasgow
- Shetler SG. 1982 Variation and evolution of Nearctic harebells (Campanula subsect. Heterophylla). Phan. Monogr. 11. 1-516 (1982)- En Abstr. in Excerpta Bot., A, 39(1): p.20 (1982).
- Helgi Hallgrímsson & Guðríður Gyða Eyjólfsdóttir (2004). Íslenskt sveppatal I - smásveppir [Checklist of Icelandic Fungi I - Microfungi. Fjölrit Náttúrufræðistofnunar. Náttúrufræðistofnun Íslands [Icelandic Institute of Natural History]. ISSN 1027-832X
- Plantlife website County Flowers page Archived 2015-04-30 at the Wayback Machine
- William Shakespeare, Cymbeline (iv. 2), Arviragus speech
- Christina G Rossetti, A Nursery Rhyme Book, Macmillan and Co., London, New York (1893)
- Emily Dickinson, Did the Harebell loose her girdle, Volume: Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, first published in 1955