Tall bellflower is an eagerly awaited wildflower. The pages are not really going so slowly. I have been trying to identify some of the many flowers stashed in my Unknown folder. There are a lot of goldenrods. I still have pictures of at least four more to verify identification of.
Campanula americana L.
July to September N Family: Campanulaceae
Flower: The top of the stem is a column of blue flowers with white centers. The calyx or cup behind the flower is made of green bracts with long tips curved outward. The flower has five pointed petals with tapered curled tips. They are around a ridged mounded disk ending with a long blue pistil sticking out. The stamens are like curled yellow ribbons around the base of the pistil.
Leaf: The green leaves are long and broad in the middle tapering at both ends. The stem end has a short petiole winged with leaf tissue. The leaf tip is a long point. Short hairs follow the midvein and the leaf edges, scattered elsewhere. The edges are toothed. The leaves and petioles get smaller as they get higher on the stem.
Stem: Single unbranched stems grow up to six feet tall. They are strongly ridges often with hairs on the ridges. The stems are rigid and try to grow straight but will grow at an angle or curved.
Root: The root is an annual or biennial taproot.
Fruit: The calyx bracts get twice as long and turn brown around the developing seeds. They are in small clusters looking like ridged brown urns. They have holes open in them from which the seeds are scattered.
Habitat: This plant prefers growing in light shade as along the edges of woods and along roads.
The easiest place to find Tall Bellflower is along a shady stretch of road especially if a ravine is close. They are easy to spot as the stems tower above most of the other plants early in their blooming time although they will get crowded out later on. The flowers are unmistakable.
Clusters of blue to purple flowers hang out over the leaves. New buds form higher on the stem even as others bloom so the plants keep blooming for months. The white centers are like bull’s-eyes pulling attention to the long pistils sticking nearly an inch out of the flowers.
Nectar around the base of the pistil attracts insects to pollinate the flowers. The flowers are sturdy enough for small bumblebees to land and hang on.
Tall Bellflower is an annual or a biennial. It depends on when the seeds germinate. Those germinating in the early spring will bloom that season. Those germinating late in the season will overwinter and bloom the following year.
The plants are easy to start from seed and grow easily. They are gaining in popularity for native gardens but make a lovely backdrop for other shorter plants. Once established, tall bellflower will self seed.
Deer will eat tall bellflower nipping off the stems. The plant puts out more flowers on the stem left growing. Even such short plants are easy to spot and identify as no other wildflower looks like this one.
In rich soil the plants can grow fairly close together offering each other support on windy days. This also masses the blooming columns making them even more noticeable and impressive.
If botany is your forte, check out How the Syrian Milkweed Got Its Name and The Floral Biology of Aristolochia. If nature essays and enjoyable reading, check out Exploring the Ozark Hills.