Campanula, or Bellflowers are beautiful and distinctive with their bell-shape and center pistil. These flowers go by some whimsical names and have some interesting legends associated with them.
Campanulas are the right to gift to give someone you want to say thank you to. These flowers are thought to symbolize gratitude, affection, constancy, everlasting love, humility, and delicacy.
The Varied Names of Campanula
Campanula comes from the Latin word for “little bell.” This is the reason why you may often hear Campanula referred to as Bellflowers, Blue Bells, and Canterbury bells in England, and many more bell names for the many varieties. In Scotland, the flowers are known as Harebells because hares often occupy the fields where they are found. Some even say that witches transformed into these cute bunnies to hide among the harebells.
You might hear campanula referred to by some other strange names: balloon flower is one of those names. The name Venus’ Looking Glass is another name known by lovers of this flower who know the legend behind it.
Venus, goddess of love and beauty, owns a magic mirror. She’s vain and beautiful so it makes sense that she would own a very special and powerful mirror. Anyone who looked into it, would appear beautiful even if they were horrifically ugly. However, she lost the mirror to a shepherd boy found it randomly as he was herding sheep. He looked in the mirror casually and was overwhelmed by happy feelings so he kept the mirror. She frantically called Cupid to find the mirror on Earth. Cupid found the shepherd boy and implored him to return the mirror. It was too late. The shepherd boy was under the mirror’s spell and could not willingly give away the mirror. As there was no way to convince the boy, Cupid had to shoot his hand with an arrow to make him drop the mirror. The mirror however hit the ground hard and shattered the mirror. The shards bloomed into beautiful bellflowers.
In some folklore tales campanula is associated with the fairy realm. It’s said that fairies planted bellflowers in the ground so they could trap small children. Or in a lighter story one could ring the bellflowers to call the fairies to their location. You may hear the bellflower called Fairy Thimbles in these folktales. Alternately, you might refer to these fairy-associated flowers as Dead Man’s Bells. This is because another story claims the fairies would cast spells on anyone picked or damaged the flowers.
The flower is edible, and the roots of the bellflower are edible and often used within Korean cooking.
The Mountain Bluebells specifically have medicinal qualities. Cheyenne Indians of the Great Plains infused the leaves to create cures for smallpox and measles. Powdered roots helped to ease the itching from smallpox. They also infused the entire plant to give to women after they experienced childbirth to increase their milk flow. Across the world, in Poland, those afflicted with tuberculosis would bathe in a flower infusion to combat the disease. If their skin became darker, this would signify their survival. If it stayed fair, the infusion did not work and they would die from the consumption. Differing varieties of the flowers are used today in home remedies to combat skin conditions, sore throats, oral inflammations, and heart and lung diseases.