Parish Grasslands Logo

Parish Grasslands Project

Flower Survey

Menu

Harebell - Campanula rotundifolia

This highly recognisable, delicate, blue bellflower is, like Tormentil, a plant of dry grassland that can grow on both alkaline and acid soils. It flowers from July to September in fine grass that has been grazed, but is not currently heavily grazed. It cannot bear shade and is rapidly overtopped when bracken spreads or grass is neglected or fertilised.

Survey Results Map

In 1920 it was common on the Gloucestershire side of the Wye in meadows, on hedgebanks and in woods, which must show that the woods were themselves kept open by management. In 1948 the Gloucestershire Flora says it was common in grassy hills, pastures and waysides, especially on the sandstone, which indicates a preference for acid soils. Flora Klickmann recorded it in bloom on 08/09/1923, 21/07/1932 and 15/08/1934. On the last occasion she was more specific: "a mass of harebells in bloom in grass by a rhododendron, though I've no idea how it got into the garden".

In 2017 it was recorded in seven locations on the Hudnalls and the Fence. Several places where it was known until recently seem to have become harebell-free. It could not be found in many places that might have supported it, such as the slopes below Madgetts, the Slade and around Knoll Farm, and there was no sign of it in residual limestone grassland on a steep bank near Aylesmore Brook.

Verdict:

  • A rapidly declining species now reduced to small, isolated populations.
  • Could easily become extinct in a few years.

George Peterken