Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
The harebell or "bluebell" usually begins to bloom during mid June on the Dakota prairies. The plant likely occurs in every county in North Dakota and also inhabits much of North America and Eurasia, at elevations up to 13,000 ft.
Harebell is about a foot tall. From 1 to 5 bluish-purple flowers about one half inch long are clustered at the tip of the one to several stems that arise from scaly perennial rootstocks. Leaves are long and thin except at the very base where several short-lived round or oval leaves appear. Fruits are capsules that open by basal pores to release shiny, brownish seeds.
One can find harebell on almost any native grassland in the state, regardless of grazing intensity. The plant is especially fond of sandy soils. Some of the European Campanulas are eaten as vegetables in salads and have minor medicinal properties, but our species seems not to have any known economic uses.
Harebell is a member of the bluebell family (Campanulaceae). The family contains about 600 species, most of them found in temperate zones. The generic name Campanula is a diminutive of the Latin campana, "a bell," from the shape of the flower. The specific epithet rotundifolia means "round-leaved" in botanical Latin. The species was first described by the Swedish father of modern plant taxonomy Carl von Linne (Linnaeus) in 1753. Botanists consider his Species Plantarum to contain the first scientifically acceptable descriptions of plants.