- Family: Bellflower Family – Campanulaceae
- Growing form: Usually biennial herb. Taproot short, thick, erect.
- Height: 30–100 cm (12–40 in.). Stem bristly (sharp-edged), rough-haired.
- Flower: Corolla campanulate (bell-shaped), 5-lobed, fused, 12–20 mm (0.48–0.8) long, light blue or sometimes white. Calyx fused, 5-lobed, lobes blunt. Stamens 5. Gynoecium composed of 3 fused carpels, longer than corolla. Flowers in dense clusters that form a raceme, terminating the stem or in upper axils.
- Leaves: Alternate. Basal leaves stalked, lanceolate–narrowly obovate, usually withered by flowering time. Stalk widely winged. Stem leaves stalkless, linear–narrowly lanceolate. Blade irregularly with rounded teeth (crenate), stiffly haired.
- Fruit: Roundly conical, quite narrow, strong-veined, hairy, nodding, capsule opening from base.
- Habitat: Forest margins, hillside meadows, dry meadows and banks.
- Flowering time: July–August.
- Endangerment: Vulnerable.
Bristly bellflower is a large plant that is one of our most handsome bellflowers. It is usually easily recognizable by its inflorescence, a dense, blue-flowered umbel. The same kind of inflorescence is also common to its close relative clustered bellflower (C. glomerata), but the species can be differentiated at least on the basis of the form of their basal rosettes and calyx lobes.
Bristly bellflower is short-lived, usually only a biennial, sometimes once-flowering, short-lived perennial. Its preservation is dependent on the production of abundant amounts of seed: one plant can produce 20–30,000 seeds. The flowers are pollinated by bees and flower-flies – self-pollination is also possible but in that case the number of seeds produced is much smaller. The species thrives in light and open spaces. Bristly bellflower’s original habitats are in central European park-like forests, hedgerows and damp meadows. The species could well be an ancient arrival in Finland and it usually grows in places that people have cleared. Like many other old slash-and-burn culture species, bristly bellflower has clearly declined as its traditional habitats become overgrown.