Monday, November 16, 2009

American Bellflower - Campanula americana

Members of the genus Campanula are common components of woodland understories to our north and one of the real harbingers of spring.  In my Wisconsin youth, I would encounter them everywhere each spring after snowmelt as I wandered through the woods exploring.  In Florida, however, bellfowers are quite rare.
American bellflower (C. americana) is reported from only 3 counties around Torreya State Park - the setting for so many northern species that have maintained a small foothold in Florida because of the unique microclimate generated by the ravine forests there.  This same species is commonly found throughout all of eastern North America.
American bellflower in Florida is found in the understories of deciduous forests - particularly in the cooler and moister conditions generated by steep ravine forests where conditions somewhat mimic the Appalachians.  Alexa and I encountered these blooming specimens on our October visit to Torreya State Park, but most sources describe its typical blooming season to be "summer."  These are annuals.  Growth is rapid from their spring germination and mature specimens stand several feet tall.
This is yet another interesting addition to Florida's native flora and a fascinating look into our past history when Florida's climate may have been much more similar to that of areas to our north.  American bellfower is not a candidate in Florida as a landscape plant, but it is something to witness if you take the time to explore such treasures as Torreya State Park and the Nature Conservancy's Bluffs and Ravines Preserve near Bristol.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please let me know if this site and the various postings have been useful to you.