Chinese balloon flower

(There will be shorter-longer gaps between the articles as I am working two jobs, my apologies. … Actually 3, but with 2 companies, so…)
Anyhow, this is actually one of my favourite flower. And we can just follow the pattern with the flowers, what only can produce blue-pink-white flowers. I just love that colour combination.

To be fair, finding the English name for it, was a bit challenging, as many gardening website only mentions it by its Latin name, Platycodon grandiflorus. But luckily, RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) is on our side, hence we got the English name. Which alternatively can be Chinese or Japanese bellflower as well. Platycodon has a synonym name as well in Latin (actually, it has many synonyms), which is Campanula grandiflora.

In the article where I wrote about Latin names, this is a very good example of how Latin names changes. Campanula grandiflora was the name in the 18th century and then they changed it to Platycodon grandiflorus in the 19th century.

Also the other synonyms. Before the internet and modern technology, data was not always easily accessible. Sometimes people thought, they discovered a new plant and named it. Later it turned out, it was already described, the plant is actually the same plant, maybe it looked different due to environmental differences or other factors (it was small, because there was not enough nutrient, it was elongated, because it was shaded). In situation like this, they keep all the synonyms in the original documents and keep a list of all synonyms in a database like IPNI or PlantList. So when you work with old specimens and you are not familiar with the name, you just check on one of these websites what tells you the accepted name of the plant.

Or Latin names can changed when with modern DNA technology, they discovered that a plant belongs to another genus than what they thought before, or it is actually more closely related to the plants of another family, and then the plant taxonomically moved to another family.

Our lovely bellflower is native to East Asia. Therefore I wouldn’t really recommend to plant it in another areas. We can have one or two here in Europe, I would say, but not too much. It is not like the lily of the valley, which spreads like crazy, I had two in my garden for years, no more and no less. But I don’t know their environmental behaviour and in order to protect biodiversity, we have to take that into account. If bees prefers that plant more than native species, than for the sake of biodiversity, we have to say goodbye to it. (In my opinion, it wasn’t really a bee-attractive plant (or maybe just the native Tilia tree next to it was more attractive, haha).


It is called bellflower or balloonflower, because the buds, right before opening, looks like balls or balloons. Apparently they give a popping sound when they open, but they open quite early in the morning, when the sun comes up, and I am really not a morning person.

The leaves and roots are edible, they are actually consumed in the Far East. They are traditionally used in herbal medicine, for coughs and common cold, flu. They believe it helps to fight with cancer. The research is quite far from human trials at this point, so I wouldn’t rely on it much. Maybe it helps, maybe not, maybe it help for the neighbour, but not you. Cancer is not something what can be cured with a magic root.

Bellflower on a kimono


The flower has a strong cultural background, in Korean and Japan mostly,

strongly in Japan. In Japanese, the flower called kikyō (桔梗, in Chinese: jiégěng), it is one of the Seven Autumn Flowers. The bellflower seal actually quite commonly appears on clan crests. You can find the flowers on the geishas’ clothing and hair accessories as well – traditionally, the bellflower is among the decoration elements for September.

miehena_septHere on the left, you can see a picture about Miehena, traditionally wearing autumn colours and a September kanzashi with bellflowers.




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