A very delicate little flower in open to fairly dark forests and woods is Scouler’s harebell (Campanula scouleri). One must look closely amid the understory growth to see this perennial, also known as pale bellflower or Scouler’s bluebell, that is native to the mountains of western North America.
A member of the bellflower family, Scouler’s harebell grows from slender rhizomes. The stem is lax (not stiff or erect) and may be curved near the base. The alternate leaves are sharply toothed. At the base of the stem the leaves are egg-shaped and have a petiole (stalk). Moving up the stem, the leaves get progressively narrower and the petioles become shorter. Scouler’s harebell flowers are white to very pale blue and bell-shaped with five recurved (bent back) lobes. The style (end of the female reproductive organ) sticks well out from the flower. Several nodding flowers on long slender stalks grow at the top of the stem.
The roots of Scouler’s harebell are edible, especially if boiled or sautéed. However, I do not believe that the small roots provide enough food value to justify the death of these beautiful flowers.
Scouler’s harebell was named for Dr. John Scouler, the Scottish naturalist who accompanied David Douglas on his botanical expeditions to the Pacific Northwest in 1824-25.
These lovely Scouler’s harebells were found along the North Umpqua Trail in Oregon near Wright Bridge.