Creeping bellflower Campanula rapunculoides
Our city has declared war on a simple little plant called the Creeping Bell Flower. I’ve seen wanted posters illustrating this criminal and city workers searching for this public offender.! Listed as a noxious weed, this pretty little purple bellflower is hiding behind fences and in fields in our neighbourhood. When I researched why such a beautiful weed is listed as noxious the only reason was “ This plant’s thick creeping roots can travel under fences, lawns and concrete, making it very difficult to control.” Learning this, I find myself in a quandary… I know where they are hiding Should I tell someone?
More research shows the bellflower attracts pollinators and is an edible herb. Its calcium rich leaves can be served in salads and the stems can be sautéed and and served as a side dish.
This nitrogen rich plant can also benefit other plants by releasing nitrogen into the soil upon decomposing.
Plants for a Future says “Leaves and young shoots – raw or cooked. Rich in vitamin C. A pleasant mild flavour. Root – raw or cooked. A nut-like flavour, very palatable. The young roots are best. Somewhat sweet, they are a pleasant addition to the salad bowl.”
A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and Central North America by Lee Allen Peterson says this about this plant “The slender runners send down fleshy underground branches which can be chopped and added to salads or boiled for 20 minutes. The taste is slightly sweet, suggesting parsnips. Late Summer-Fall”.
So let me think… we have a beautiful plant that survives drought, is beneficial to pollinators, other plants and is edible from roots to flowers. Will I tell our city workers so they can spray it with herbicide?
Don’t worry Mr. Bellflower, your secret is safe with me…. until I’m ready to harvest you!!!