The Campanulaceae or Bellflower family is another family with many useful ornamental garden varieties but also has several native species in the main genus Campanula as well as in the genera: Legousia, Hesperocodon (Wahlenbergia), Phyteuma, Jasione and Lobelia.
See on the next page for all the main species in this family and about their ethnobotanical uses. This blog cannot provide all the info, such as where you can find them, what soil conditions, etc. But this is why I provide the links of some other marvelous websites out there! Green background is for the usual Edible or Wildlife uses and pink background for Medicinal uses. Blue background for ‘Interesting facts’ , although I hope you find all my information interesting!
Campanula spp. or Bellflowers
There are 17 different species listed in Stace and only 5 are truly native, whilst the remaining are garden escapes.
These garden escapes are often so much ‘at home’ here, even more at home than many a native wildflower! All the campanulas produce abundant, small seeds which can germinate in small cracks on pavements and in walls and disturbed soils.
As many wildflowers they may be pollinated by beetles, flies, bees and butterflies; they have nectar/pollen rich flowers.
Campanula rampunculus or Rampion Bellflower is not strictly a native. It was originally grown for its edibility and was recorded from the wild as early as 1597, but then it fell out of favour as a vegetable around 1700 and is now both rare in the wild as well as in cultivation.
- Root can be eaten raw or cooked. A very nice sweet flavour, reminiscent of walnuts. They are best mixed with other root vegetables and used in winter salads.
- Leaves – raw or cooked as a potherb. A fairly bland flavour, with a hint of sweetness, they are quite acceptable raw in salads. The leaves are rich in vitamin C, they make an acceptable winter salad.
- Young shoots in spring can be blanched and cooked like asparagus.
According to Ken Fern from PFAF:
- Leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. The leaves are rather small, but they are produced all year round. They have a mild flavour and make an acceptable ingredient in mixed salads, especially in the winter, but we find that, eaten in quantity, they become a bit unpleasant.
- Flowers can be added in salads and they have a pleasant flavour.
Numerous varieties and cultivars have been developed for garden use, including ‘Blue Gown’, ‘Blue Waterfall’, ‘Freya’, ‘E.H. Frost’, ‘Glandore’, ‘Lisduggan Variety’, ‘Senior’, and ‘Silberregen’. The cultivar ‘Stella’ has gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit.
According to PFAF:
- Leaves may be eaten raw or cooked. Has a pleasant sweet flavour but the leaves are a little tough according to Ken Fern (PFAF). It makes a very good addition mixed in salads during winter
- The flowers taste sweet and make a decorative addition to the salad bowl.
According to Wikipedia, this is a Eurasian wildflower which is native to Denmark and England as well as naturalized in southeast Ireland. It is found southward through much of Europe into Africa.
An attractive ornamental plant, which easily spreads by seeds!
This latex-containing plant is used for tonsillitis according to The Medicinal Flora of Britain and Northwestern Europe by J. Barker. A gargle is made from the fresh leaves or roots.
It is regularly visited by bumblebees and Honeybees, providing an autumnal source of nectar for these insects.
According to the charity Plantlife this is the County Flower of Dumfriesshire, Yorkshire and County Antrim!
See also their article about the threat of too much Nitrogen in the air.
The next genera in the Campanulaceae are
this genus has only got one Archaeophytal species:
L. hybrida has significantly declined since the 1940s because of the use of herbicides and changing methods of arable cultivation. However, the seed is long-lived and populations can reappear after long periods of absence.
The shining oval fruits which appear inside the seed-capsule give rise to the name, which are said to resemble brilliantly polished brass hand-mirrors.
Hesperocodon (syn. Wahlenbergia)
Phyteumia or Rampion
According to Wikipedia this plant can be eaten:
The leaves, roots, and flowers are edible, and can be eaten raw. Flowers before blooming can for instance be prepared by steaming or boiling briefly, then seasoned (see photo above). But I would only do this if it is becoming a real invasive weed though!
It has been grown for centuries as a medicinal plant, and was first recorded in the wild in 1640 according to the online atlas But I could not find anymore information on that.
The round-headed rampion is known colloquially in the county of Sussex, England as the Pride of Sussex. It is also the County flower of Sussex. As Sussex’s county flower, its name was chosen for the Rampion Wind Farm, a wind farm off the coast of Sussex.
Jasione or Sheep’s-bit
Jasione montana or Sheep’s-bit is a beautiful and useful native wildflower:
Some fifty species of bees and wasps, thirty species of fly, thirty species of butterflies and moths and several beetles have been recorded as visiting the flowers, and therefore this plant is characterized by a generalized pollination syndrome.
The flowers are visible under ultraviolet light and it is believed that this makes them attractive to pollinating insects. They do not show a traditional bull’s-eye pattern to guide the insect but the ultraviolet reflectance of the petals is very high.
There are 2 native species according to Stace:
It is rare in Britain and only found in South and South West of England in lowland areas up to 210 metres high.
Pratia angulata or Lawn Lobelia is an introduces species from New Zealand. Grown as an ornamental creeping plant.