The charming bells of Codonopsis clematidea create a whimsical fairy scene. Its common names include clematis bonnet bellflower and Asian bellflower.
Clematis bonnet bellflower (note, not a true clematis) is natively distributed in central Asia, including countries such as Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and India. This herbaceous perennial grows in mountainous regions at altitudes from 1700-2500m (5600 to 8200 ft.), particularly along ravines and streams.
A tuberous, thick-rooted plant, Asian bellflower may grow to have a spread of 50-60cm (2 ft.) and a height of 30-60cm (1-2 ft.). The flowers are strongly scented (as are the leaves when crushed), though the fragrance is described as “unpleasant and peculiar”, or skunk-like. In summer, the single bell blooms at the end of the flowering stem. A peek inside the pale blue bells reveals an intricate pattern of rings, often some mix of orange, purple, and green; to see these, visit Codonopsis clematidea via Flowers of India (click on More Images) or see Marijn van den Brink’s photos from Pakistan.