Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) Identification

Harebell / Spring / Summer / Edible

Harbell produces one of my absolute favourite flowers, I like candying them and popping them ontop of cakes I make, although the leaves are also edible I don’t tend to eat them that often, possibly because I’m soo drawn to the flowers I think about nothing else.

Common Names

Harebell, Scottish bluebell, Bluebell of Scotland, Witched Thimble, Fairy Thimbles

Botanical Name

Campanula rotundifolia

Scientific Classification

Kingdom – Plantae

Order – Asterales

Family – Campanulaceae

Genus – Rotundifolia

Lookalikes for Harebell

You may confuse this delicate flower with other Harebells such as the Creeping Bellflower (Campanula trachelioides) and others in the Campanulaceae family. Luckily none of these are toxic and all are edible. 

You also want to be mindful of the common Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) which is toxic – especially because their common name is sometimes Bluebell and they both have a blue/purple bell-shaped flower. Bluebells will be found in shaded woodlands, the leaves are long and thin and the blooms are a lot narrower with more clusters on the flower stem. The harebell is considerably more delicate. 

Bluebells (Hyacinthoides Nonscripta) Identification

Range and Distribution

Very common throughout the UK and temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere.


Grasslands, meadows, and sometimes sand dunes. Prefers dry and poor soil.

Physical Characteristics of Harebell

A herbaceous perennial growing from rhizomes with a very delicate bell-shaped blue flower.


The basal leaves are a rounded heart shape with a lobed/toothed margin. Further up the leaves become very long and narrow and loose the toothed edge to the leaf. 

harbell leaves – Stefan.lefnaer, CC BY-SA 4.0


A beautiful delicate violet-blue bell-shaped flower consisting of 5 petals flowering in the summer months. You may also come across pale pink and white blooms. 

harebell flowers – AnRo0002, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Edible Uses of Harebell

The leaves are slightly bitter and can be added to salads or wilted down as a green.

The flowers make a lovely decoration for cakes and desserts or as a garnish. 

Myth, Folklore & Other Uses

The Harebell is shrouded in myth and magic, especially in Scotland with connections to the fairy kingdom and hell. It is believed that witches would have used the flowers in spells and potions to transmute into hares. The Victorian’s believed that fairies slept in the bells.

You can make a blue dye from the flowers which has been traditionally used in Scotland to dye tartan.

Learn a little more on their Scottish Folklore here

Identification is key!

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