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Most plants commonly called bellflowers actually belong to the botanical genus Campanula; this genus has about three hundred species of annual and perennial plants, many of which originate from the Mediterranean area, also present in Italy in the wild, others originate instead in Asia or in North America.
It is a very broad genus, although the various species are easily attributable to the genus: they have varied development, from small ground coverings, such as C. garganica or C. carpatica, to species 50-60 cm high, such as the bellflower persicifolia, and even beyond; the foliage is green or bluish green, rounded or lanceolate; what most distinguishes the bluebells however is the shape of the flower, in the shape of a small bell in fact, often turned downwards. Furthermore all the bellflowers produce flowers of similar color, either white or violet. There are obviously many hybrids and cultivars, with pink, blue or purple flowers; but the typical color of the bellflower is blue-violet.
The bluebells are very common also in the gardens, of easy cultivation, among the most cultivated we remember the Carpathian campanula and the campanula coclearifolia, perennial ground coverings with spring bloom; C. portenschlagiana, perennial that develops thick low bushes, which in late spring are covered with small flowers; C. spicata, which produces flowers gathered in short spikes; C. glomerata, with flowers gathered in umbrella-shaped inflorescences.
The list could go on, many species are cultivated to enjoy the abundant and often continuous flowering, all these plants are easy to cultivate, they only need a good well-drained and soft soil and a good dose of direct sun every day.
Other types of bellflowers
Many other flowers are commonly called campanulas, some actually belong to the bellflower family, so they are "related" to the bellflowers, which is why they have flowers very similar to those of the bellflowers themselves. Thousands of species belong to the bellflower family, subdivided into almost one hundred genera, almost all of them originate from the northern hemisphere, and occur naturally in temperate zones. These are perennials or flower annuals, rarely of shrubs.
Among the most widespread we remember the Platycodon, once called C. grandiflora; annual or perennial plant, which develops stems up to 50-70 cm tall, with large purple or white flowers.
The codonopsis, with particular greenish bell-shaped flowers; the Adenophora, with pink or deep purple bells; the Lobelia, ground covering or hanging, very used also on the balconies.
Other plants called campanulas do not even belong to the genus or campanulaceae; in fact, there are many plants that produce white, blue or pink flowers in the shape of a bell; among the bulbous plants we remember the leucojum, called winter bellflower, or the gentian, often called mountain bellflower.
Among the plants called campanulas, some have nothing to do with bellflowers, but produce bell flowers that are very different, very wide and of showy or soft color; these are the convolvulaceae, another genus widespread in Europe, as a garden plant but also as a wild plant.
The most cultivated are certainly the Ipomee, large bells of bright color, which develop on long climbing stems; we also remember the convolvulus, another very widespread genus, producing climbing stems or even small shrubs, often with gray or green-blue foliage, and trumpet flowers of light, white or rosé color.