- Family: Bellflower Family – Campanulaceae
- Growing form: Perennial herb. With subterraneous runners.
- Height: 20–50 cm (8–20 in.). Stem limp, upper part usually branched, 3-edged rough, attachable.
- Flower: Corolla openly campanulate (bell-shaped), 5-lobed (deeply), fused, 5–9 mm (0.02–0.036 in.) long, white, blue-veined. Calyx fused, 5-lobed. Stamens 5. Gynoecium composed of 3 fused carpels, longer than corolla. Inflorescence a lax corymb or sometimes solitary terminating long and fragile flower-stalks.
- Leaves: Alternate, stalkless. Blade linearly lanceolate, shallow-toothed–almost with entire margins. Margin and midrib rough.
- Fruit: Spherical, nodding capsule, doesn’t ripen in Finland.
- Habitat: Damp meadows, ditches.
- Flowering time: July–August.
Marsh bellflower is a modest looking bellflower. At first glance its delicate general impression, lax inflorescence, white flowers and light green linear leaves bring chickweed (Stellaria spp.) to mind.
Marsh bellflower is originally North American. It grows in peatland meadows on the eastern side of both Canada and the USA. The species was found in Finland in 1932 in Pälkäne in southern Häme, where it was growing beside Tykölä Lake run-off ditch and a nearby damp meadow in a 2-hectare area. Judging from school-children’s plant-collecting projects, the species has grown in the area since at least 1912. It probably arrived in Finland in grass seed or with clover or timotei. Finland’s marsh bellflower population is still Europe’s only known stand.
Marsh bellflower seems to have established itself on its growing places in Finland. It can be found in Pälkäne and Tampere in the same kind of damp places as it originated. It uses its thin subterraneous runners to propagate itself; it seems that seeds do not form at all in Finland. If the whole stand is a clone of one plant, it’s very possible that, like many other bellflowers when self-sterile, it is unable to form seeds. This would explain why a plant that has made itself very much at home hasn’t spread further from its original habitat.