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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

28 December, 2016

Harebell: the Scottish bluebell

I always though of the harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) as being a classic chalk grassland flower so when I moved to Dorset some years ago now I was surprised to find them on heath and acid grasslands as well as the more familiar chalk and limestone soils. Further research confirmed that they do, indeed, grow on in grassy areas on both alkaline and acid soils.
The harebell is delightful delicate flower. A member of the bellflower family, Campanulaceae, it is a slender plant a few pale blue flowers occurring in the tops of the stems from July onward until the autumn puts a stop to them. Usually they are quite small plants but they can grow to over a foot tall. They spread by underground creeping stems but do, of course, set seed as well being a favoured nectar source for bees. They also self-pollinate so all i all they can spread themselves about a bit! .
In Scotland they are known as bluebells but they are not related in any way to the bluebells we know here down south in Dorset. In 2002 Plantlife named this as the county flower of Yorkshire following a poll of the local folk.
Harebell: the Scottish bluebell