Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Campanula trachelium L.

Fully hardy upright perennial with tubular, mid-blue to white flowers in mid and late summer.  To 90cm.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

Both Paxton’s and Johnson’s Dictionary list 3 varieties, alba, alba-plena, and plena, with a double blue flower. Introduced to Britain as Campanula urticifolia from Germany in 1800.  A double-flowered form also exists.  [JD].  Don.  Saint-Hilaire pl.1/1828.

‘Canterbury Bells.  Trachelium majus.  A very beautiful wild plant with leaves like the stinging nettle, and large and very elegant blue flowers.  It grows by road-sides, and in dry pastures, and is two or three feet high.  The stalks are square, thick, upright, strong, and hairy.  The leaves grow irregularly, they are of a dusky green, and stand upon long foot-stalks; they are broad at the base, and sharp at the point, and all the way indented very sharply at the edges.  They are hairy and rough to the touch.  The flowers grow ten or a dozen together at the top of every branch; they are very large and of a beautiful blue colour, hollow and divides into several parts of the extremity.  If the soil be poor, the flowers will vary in their colour to a pale blue, reddish, or white, but the plant is still the same.  The fresh tops, with the buds of the flowers upon them, contain most virtue, but the dried leaves may be used.  An infusion of them sharpened with a few drops of Spirit of Vitriol, and sweetened with honey, is an excellent medicine for sore throats, used by way of a gargle.  The plant is so famous for this virtue, that one of its common English names is Throat-wort: if the medicine be swallowed, there is no harm in it; but, in the use of everything in this way, it is best to spit the liquor out together with the foulnesses which it may have washed from the affected parts.’  [Hill p.62].  

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1850 and 1857 catalogues as Campanula trachelium [H.47/1850] and in the 1845, 1850 and 1857 catalogues as Campanula urticifolia [H.48/1845].


Campanula trachelium Bull. (b.1793) = Campanula rapunculoides L. which see.

Campanula trachelium Thunb. (1784) = Campanula punctata Lam.

Campanula trachelium Brot. (1804) = Campanula primulaefolia Brot.

A less likely possibility for Macarthur’s Campanula urticifolia is Campanula urticifolia Hegetschw. (1839).

Published Sep 28, 2009 - 04:42 PM | Last updated Jul 16, 2010 - 10:46 AM

Family Campanulaceae
Region of origin

Europe including Britain, Asia, North Africa

  • Campanula urticifolia Schmidt
Common Name

Bats-in-the-belfry, Nettle-leaved bellflower, Throatwort

Name in the Camden Park Record

Campanula trachelium        

Campanula urticifolia

Confidence level high