Stems: slender, erect, simple or branched. Leaves: basal ones orbicular or broadly ovate to cordate; cauline ones sessile, linear. Flowers: buds erect on slender pedicels, flowers drooping or spreading; corolla campanulate, five-lobed.
These bells of brilliant purple-blue are familiar to every traveller in the temperate zone, for from "Bonnie Scotland" to the Pacific Slope the Harebell graces many a hill and dale.
Poets in every age have sung of this flower, which is the real Bluebell of Scotland, the favourite floral emblem of the "Land o' cakes and brither Scots," for, as the old song says: "Let the proud Indian boast of his jessamine bowers, His pastures of perfume, and rose-coloured dells, While humbly I sing of those wild little flowers, The bluebells of Scotland, the Scottish bluebells."
The name rotundifolia refers to the roundish heart-shaped basal leaves of the plant which wither early, while the stem-leaves, which are numerous, narrow and pointed, remain. A marked characteristic of these flowers is that, although the buds grow erect on their slender stalks, the fullblown blossoms droop or are horizontal in order to protect their pollen from the rain. The name Harebell refers to the hair-like stems of the plant, and the common term Bluebell is usually reserved for the Wild Hyacinth, which is a very different flower, having thick juicy stalks and resembling the garden species.
The Harebell is extremely hardy and may be found in the crevices of the cliffs, defying the fierce alpine storms or growing on dry wind-swept meadows, or striking its roots into the tiniest patch of soil, so as to gain a foothold on the edge of some terrific precipice, where its delicate bells, so "darkly, deeply, beautifully blue," bend but never break before the blustering gale. This wonderful vitality of the Campanula is commemorated by Sir Walter Scott when, describing Ellen in The Lady of the Lake, he says: "E'en the light harebell raised its head Elastic from her airy tread."
Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)
Campanula lasiocarpa, or Arctic Harebell, is a low-growing species with linear acute sessile, usually entire upper leaves, the lower ones being spatulate and narrowed into petioles, while the bright blue flowers are nearly erect and solitary on the short stalks. This Harebell grows on the alpine summits.