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Recently a friend of mine informed me that some lovely flowers we have in our yard, may in fact be creeping bellflower, which (at least where I am) is an invasive species. Now, today while I was doing research I came across another flower that looks similar (but, I can't find the link now that I'm home to actually write this post).

From what I have read the plant does look at least similar to the one in the images here.

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That said, the leaves on this specimen...don't quite jive with the descriptions found on line.

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Can any of you help me in identifying this is it a "burn it with fire plant" or a pretty plant that simply needs to be reigned in a little.

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I think it's an invasive-ish campanula lookalike called Adenophora (probably A. latifolia). This may be the same plant that Bamboo has referenced, because the taxonomists have been changing the botanical names quite a bit lately. What gives me this idea is the flowers - rather than dangling only on one side of the stem, they seem to appear all the way around it, like an adenophora. Also, creeping bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides, unless they've changed that name, too) flowers self-clean - I never see dead flowers like those in your photos.

As noted in other answers, your best ID key is the root - is it a white carrot-like taproot with white side roots or is it rather stringy?

Adenophora can be nearly as invasive as bellflower, but seems to be easier to kill.

  • It's rather stringy. We didn't see any "white carroty things" when we cleared a patch of it. – user26619 Aug 7 at 14:01
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    Not a creeping bellflower then, but certainly a campanula or related plant. – Jurp Aug 8 at 2:15
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There is another Campanula that is very similar - Campanula latifolia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campanula_latifolia, but that tends to hold its flowers facing directly outwards, whereas your one seems to have flowers which dangle more. The leaves on C. latifolia are wider than the plant you have too, so yours may well be creeping bellflower, especially if it just appeared on its own and is spreading fairly quickly and widely. Whether you want to try and get rid of it before it spreads more is up to you; it's quite attractive when in flower.

  • We aren't sure if it appeared on it's own or not. This is our first summer in our house, and there were no pictures of this portion of the garden in the listing...and it is far enough back that it doesn't show up on Google Streetview... – user26619 Aug 6 at 15:11
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Here is a useful video by the University of Wisconsin with an explanation of how to identify creeping bellflower. It is good and detailed and should leave the viewer in no doubt.

That much said, it might well be that if this bellflower is serving a useful purpose in your location then it becomes an attractive flower and not a weed. Keep it. The only concern would be regarding your neighbours. Bellflower tends to escape from one garden to another very easily and if your patch is located where it can be blamed for infesting a neighbour's yard then it might be better to keep it out and use something else to beautify your yard. It is wise to avoid cold stares and mumbling over the lot line if at all possible.

  • If it's creeping bellflower, I disagree with Colin as to keeping it - it spreads by seed in my area of Wisconsin and I and my neighbors are not amused that one house has apparently seeded the entire neighborhood. It's best if you can remove it when it's young. – Jurp Aug 7 at 10:23
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This does look like creeping bellflower. It's behaviour can be quite different on the Us East Coast and Eastern Canada depending on the amount of moisture in soil. In one house where the soil had lots of moisture it could not be stopped with any control measures.

In my current area it slowly spreads in dry areas and in other areas seems to behave quite well.

In all cases it is tough to remove as it makes tuberous roots. This will help identify the plant as the tubers are sized from baby carrot to parsnip thickness depending on the age and environment.

  • I am in Alberta, Canada and we have had way, WAY, more moisture than normal this year. It is kinda insane to be honest. What confuses me though is some of the plants have thin, "pointy" leaves, while others had that more "tell-tale" broad leaf, with jagged edges more endemic to Creeping Bellflower. – user26619 Aug 6 at 15:23
  • @J Crosby get a shovel and have a dig. If you see tubers then this plant will be hard to remove. – kevinsky Aug 6 at 15:26

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