This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol5-6", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
This plant is known entirely from its distribution at the present day in the North Temperate Zone, where it ranges from Denmark southward (except in Greece), in Europe generally, N. Africa, W. Siberia. In Great Britain, Rampion is hardly native in every county in which it is found, but it occurs in W. Cornwall, S. Somerset, N. Hants, W. Sussex, the Thames except in East Kent, Oxford, E. Suffolk, Norfolk. Cambridge, Northampton, Here-ford, Worcester, Warwick, Stafford, Carnarvon, Denbigh, Anglesea, Notts, S.E. Yorks, N. and E. Yorks, S.W. Yorks, Durham, Fife, Kinross. It is doubtfully wild.
The name Rampion and the second Latin name (from rapum, turnip) refers to the character of the root. The stem is simple or branched, tough. The leaves are stalkless, smooth or hairy, wavy, the radical leaves lance-shaped, oval, scalloped, having a narrow leafstalk.
The small pale-blue flowers are in an erect, long, terminal raceme, or clustered panicle, which is narrowed, with awl-shaped calyx segments which are entire. The capsules are erect, stalked. Pores occur just below the calyx segments.
The stem is 3 ft. high. The flowers are at their best in July and August. The plant is biennial, cultivated for the roots. It is sown in the spring for autumn gathering.
The flower is similar to that of the Harebell, but is much larger, and the plant is more local. It is quite adapted to cross-pollination. A doubt as to its being native deprives it of some interest in this connection (but cf. Bluebell or Harebell).
The capsule is perforated at the top, and the seed is scattered by the wind.
Rampion is largely a sand-loving plant growing on sand soil, but it flourishes best on gravelly soil.
It is infested by the fungi Pseudopeziza radians and Puccinia campanuloe. A moth, The Shark (Cucullia umbratica), feeds upon it.
Rapunculus, Lonicerus, is from Latin rapum, turnip, a diminutive of it, from the shape of the roots.
This beautiful bell-flower is called Rampion and Ramps. By Gerarde it was called Rapuntium paruum.
The root was once eaten as a salad, and the plant cultivated. The root was eaten raw or boiled. In France and Italy it has been much cultivated. It may be eaten hot with sauce or cold with vinegar or pepper.
Essential Specific Characters: 188. Campanula Rapunculus, L. - Stem tall, rough, angular, leaves crenate, radical leaves lanceolate, elliptic, stem-leaves linear-lanceolate, flowers pale-blue, erect, clustered, in a small panicle, calyx-segments 5, subulate.