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 Bellflower Family
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Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Campanulaceae (from the genus Campanula, a diminutive of campana, a little bell). Bellflower Family. Herbs, shrubs, or trees, mostly with milky juice: leaves usually alternate, exstipulate, rarely lobed or divided: flowers bisexual, rarely unisexual, regular or irregular, often bilabiate and split down the back, usually epigynous; calyx of usually 5, separate, valvate sepals; corolla usually 5-lobed, gamopetalous, very rarely polypetalous; stamens as many as the lobes of the corolla, often slightly epipetalous, separate or united; ovary usually inferior, 2-5-celled or 6-10-celled, rarely 1-celled; ovules many; style 1; stigmas 1 to several: fruit a capsule, rarely a berry.

Campanulaceae has 59 genera and about 1,500 species, occurring in all parts of the world but mostly in the temperate regions. A large part are alpine. Arborescent forms occur in the Hawaiian Islands. The family is rather distantly related to the Compositae, Dipsacaceae, Caprifoliaceae. Formerly the Lobeliaceae were separated as a distinct family, but the only differences are in the irregular flowers and syngenesious or monadelphous stamens, both of which show abundant transitions. When united, the family constitutes a very distinct group. The gamopetalous epigynous flower, the many ovules and the frequently united stamens are distinctive. The stamens are sometimes united by their filaments with the anthers free (monadelphous), or by the anthers with the filaments free (syngenesious), or by both filaments and anthers.

Lobelia inflata (lobelia, Indian tobacco) of North America is poisonous. The foliage furnishes the medicinal lobelia. L. syphilitica was used for syphilis by the Indians, but is of no value. The roots of this latter plant and of the cardinal flower (L. cardinalis) are more or less poisonous. The berries and fleshy roots of some Campanulaceae have been used as food.

In cultivation in N. America are some 20 genera. Among these are: Shepherd's Scabious, or Sheep's-bit (Jasione); Chinese or Japanese Bellflower or Balloon Flower (Platycodon); Venue's Looking-glass (Specularia); Horned Rampion (Phyteuma); Giant Bellflower (Ostrowskia); Lobelia and the Cardinal Flower (Lobelia); and the Bellflowers or Bluebells (Campanula).


The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



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