A Colorful Curiosity

I moved into my house 21 years ago. In the backyard was a clump of flowers. And all these years later they are still here. They appear self seeding. I do NOTHING to them, yet every year they spring from the ground, gloriously. I love them. But have no idea what they are.


My friend Patrica wondered if they were foxglove, but the flowers are different. So, what are they?





  1. Chris on May 26, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Ross, I believe they are a perennial. A tall Bellflower (Campanula).Another common name is Canterbury Bells. Obviously, they like where they are growing. They are a great pollinator plant for bumblebees and hummingbirds. They can be divided and moved around too. Enjoy!

    • kizilod on May 26, 2017 at 10:48 am

      My first thought was also Campanula.

  2. Andi on May 26, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Hi Ross,

    I’m no flower expert, but if I’m correct, I believe they’re Penstemon strictus. At least, that’s what they look like from the images!

    • Andi on May 26, 2017 at 10:17 am

      The common name for them, by the way, is beardtongue which I adore.

  3. Julia on May 26, 2017 at 10:18 am

    They look like Bush Ladybells.

    • Andi on May 26, 2017 at 10:21 am

      Oh, I think you’re right! They are more “spiky” than beardtongues.

  4. Carin on May 26, 2017 at 10:51 am

    I’ve always known them as Creeping Campanula


  5. Mary on May 26, 2017 at 11:16 am

    I believe Lobelia siphilitica. Cardinal flower. I also have them +they volunteered!

  6. Mary on May 26, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Or Ladybells?

  7. Betsy on May 26, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Wild form of campanula

  8. Betsy on May 26, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Sort not cardinal flower which is red. Not penstemon, not beard tongue

  9. Beverley on May 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Most likely Campanula rapunculoides (creeping bellflower), or another campanula. I had them in a garden I inherited once.

    The penstemon flower is of a different form, although it also has a raceme stem.


  10. Sandra Lee on May 26, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Maybe lupines? They come in blue and pink and are perennial. Possible a type of foxglove just not the one used for digitalis.

    • Sandra Lee on May 26, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      Lupines’ leaves are different than these. Perhaps a form of salvia? Reminds me of Victoria blue salvia. The foliage is very like salvia leaves.

      • Sandra Lee on May 26, 2017 at 2:52 pm

        Salvia Sylvestris or Lyrical Rose sage looks very like your plant and the leaves are identical; salvia another name for sage plants.

  11. Meade Bollard on May 26, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    They might be lady bells.

    • Mary on May 26, 2017 at 4:46 pm

      I think thats it. Boy we must all have nothing else to do right?!!

  12. Brandy on May 26, 2017 at 5:12 pm


  13. Beth McKinsey on May 26, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    I have these come up every year too! I think thy are some type of wild flower. Name of them – I have no idea. I just call them Fairy Wands lol.

  14. Mary Ann Lammersen on May 27, 2017 at 12:10 am

    Definitely Campanula ranunculoides!! This is a beautiful perennial flower but knowing gardeners are wary of this plant and it is known in gardening circles as “the bell from hell”! When I first began collecting plants for my beautiful garden, I unknowingly brought this home from a garden sale. Then I spent two years digging it out because it took over and spread like crazy into all my other plantings. It spreads by root and by seed. In wildish places it seems wonderful, takes care of itself, but in good garden soil, it takes over and behaves like a thug. Just saying…be careful where you plant it and enjoy it’s beauty. I replaced mine after digging it out with some other Campanula relatives that are more well behaved for my style. Ross, if you move that soil around to other places or till through it, it will break into a million pieces and be everywhere. I was sad to see it go but the replacements are just as nice!

    • B. Davis on May 28, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      I like that – the bell from hell. haha the visitor that refuses to leave. She ain’t pretty, she just looks that way.

      Too bad, because I think it really is beautiful. But I also think dandelions are gorgeous. Such intricacy – and food for bees.

  15. Brandy on May 27, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    Mix it with other “thugs” like dames rocket and honesty… beautiful garden!

  16. B. Davis on May 28, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    I asked a flower expert and got this response (agreeing with most of those who already identified it):

    Thank-you for your inquiry.

    I believe the plant is called:

    Campanula rapunculoides

    “Rampion, Creeping, Rover, or European Bellflower”

    Native to Europe to Western Asia in open woodlands, forest margin and meadows.

    Grows to about 2 to 4 feet tall blooming from June to August.

    Introduced to North America as an ornamental.

    This plant is considered an invasive species due to its ability to self-seed
    and spread by deep roots.

    Plant has naturalized in Alaska, Canada, northern United States from Washington
    to Maine south to Nevada, Texas, Tennessee and northern Carolina.

    Due to its aggressive nature I would not recommend this plant.



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