A very smart plant

December 15th 2021

A very smart plant

Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) is conspicuous by its absence from most of Assynt.

The ‘Flora of Assynt’ only shows records from 8 tetrads with 5 of those on the verges of new sections of the A837 between Skiag Bridge and Lochinver.

There have been records from a few new localities since the ‘Flora’ was published in 2002, e.g. near the Clachtoll beach car park and in Stoer Cemetery. The latter location being where the photos for this post were taken.

It is a very delicate looking plant with relatively large, hanging bell-shaped flowers on the end of tall, very slender stems. The flowers can range in colour from dark blue through to the occasional white one and the plant doesn’t like wet ground. That probably explains its relative absence in Assynt!

Since Harebell has mainly blue, pendulous flowers it’s most likely pollinated by bumblebees that have a proboscis long enough to reach the nectar. If, however cross-pollination fails the plant has a backup plan.

The stamens ripen early and shed their pollen on to the immature styles and after a period of time the stigmas unfold. Then, if a bee hasn’t arrived with pollen from another Harebell the stigmas bend back and pollinate themselves.

So, a very smart plant, in more ways than one. Enjoy them if you see them.

[Originally posted on the Field Club’s Facebook page 6 August 2021]


D. Haines

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