By Katie Stannard
We wanted to share a changing of the guard: Emily Lilla (invasives guru, founder of this series and all-around terrific natural areas technician) is off to grad school with our best wishes and gratitude for her work at Matthaei-Nichols. Katie Stannard of visitor services is continuing Emily’s informative series with this post, resuming its regular schedule next week on Instagram and Facebook.
Like you, our staff grapple with invasives in their home gardens. Children’s garden manager Lee Smith Bravender sought advice from staff on identifying and eliminating creeping bellflower: “I have been physically digging this thing for years; clearly I’m propagating it. I spent my morning in the rain, again trying to dig it all up and nearly exhausting my supply of strong language.”
Native to Europe and western Asia, creeping bellflower (also known as rampion bellflower, rover bellflower, European bellflower) is listed as a noxious weed. It presents as a durable perennial, growing in moist soil but adaptable, taking root in cracks, and in dry, shady or sunny areas. Heart shaped leaves emerge in early spring, followed by 2-4 foot stems with alternating, spear-shaped, serrated leaves. Light purple bell-shaped flowers appear along the stalk’s upper end. Though a single plant can produce thousands of seeds, its root system seems nearly invincible.