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Most species of Campanulaceae occur in open grassy or herbaceous vegetation, with a centre of diversity in south-eastern Australia and Tasmania, but some species ae found in most parts of Australia.

Characteristic features of the family Campanulaceae in Australia include:

  • herbs, sometimes sub-shrubby, often with milky sap
  • leaves alternate or opposite, usually toothed or lobed
  • flowers usually showy, single on long stalks or in racemes, sometimes more or less sessile and axillary
  • corolla bell-, funnel- or salver-shaped, with 5 spreading lobes, white, blue, purple or pink, actinomorphic or strongly zygomorphic
  • anthers free or joined in a tube around the style, which acts as a pollen presenter
  • ovary inferior, developing into an often flat-topped capsule surmounted by the persistent calyx lobes


Annual, biennial or perennial terrestrial herbs, or aquatic herbs rooted in the substrate with their leaves all or mostly submerged. Leaves rarely ±absent. If perennial then perennating by rhizomes or taproots. Vegetative reproduction absent or by rhizomes or stolons. Stem internodes terete or distinctly angular. Internal secretions not obvious or of milky sap (latex). Plants glabrous or with simple, non-glandular, unicellular or uniseriate hairs. Leaves alternate and spiral, or distichous, or opposite, cauline, all or mostly basal, or both basal and cauline, petiolate, subsessile or sessile. Stipules and stipellae absent. Lamina simple, symmetric or rarely conspicuously asymmetric, pinnatifid or pinnatisect; filiform, acicular, subulate, linear, lanceolate, ovate, elliptic, oblanceolate, ovate, oblong, flabellate or orbicular; base cuneate, attenuate, rounded, cordate or oblique; margins entire, crenate, dentate or serrate or sinuate, ±flat, revolute, recurved, involute or incurved; venation pinnate, with the midrib conspicuous or inconspicuous, and the tertiary venation reticulate or not; surfaces not punctate; herbaceous. Male and female flowers occurring on separate plants, or bisexual and female flowers occurring on the same plant, or bisexual and male flowers occurring on the ?same or ?separate plants, or with all the flowers bisexual. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, consisting of racemes, monochasial cymes or solitary flowers. Bracts and bracteoles present or absent. Pollination by insects. Flowers odourless or fragrant; sessile or stalked. Floral disc present or absent; nectaries present on the disc or the carpels. Perianth of 2 dissimilar whorls. Calyx regular; segments free or fused, with (3–) 5 (–6) sepals or lobes, valvate or open in bud, rarely imbricate; calyx cup-shaped or bell-shaped, herbaceous. Corolla regular or irregular; segments fused into an open or closed tube, with (3–) 5 (–6) lobes, alternating with the sepals or calyx lobes, valvate in bud; corolla wheel-shaped, cup-shaped, bell-shaped, funnel-shaped, salver-shaped or tubular, 2-lipped, white, cream, rarely pink, magenta, purple, violet or blue, without contrasting markings, or streaked, spotted, etc, membranous; claws absent; lobes ±entire. Fertile stamens (3 or 4–) 5 (–6), opposite to the sepals or calyx lobes, free or at least partly fused to the corolla, free or at least partly fused with the ovary or style, distinct from each other, fused by their filaments into an open or closed tube, or fused by their anthers, all ±equal. Anthers basifixed, not versatile, opening inwards by longitudinal slits 2-celled; with appendages absent or apical. Ovary part-inferior or inferior. Carpels 2–5, fused; ovary with 2–3 or 5 locules. Style terminal, single and unbranched, or single and branched above. Ovules numerous per locule, stalked or sessile; placentation ?parietal or axile. Fruit a dry dehiscent poricidal or loculicidal capsule or a fleshy indehiscent berry; the perianth on the maturing fruit deciduous or dry and persistent. Disseminule macro-surface featureless or winged; micro-surface ±smooth, reticulate, alveolate, foveate, finely costate or striate, green or brown, glossy or dull. Seeds numerous per fruit. Aril absent. Cotyledons 2. Embryo straight.
(Note: this description has been generated from the coded data compiled for the key. Any errors in the key data will be reflected in the descriptions.)

A treatment of the family Campanulaceae has not yet been published in the Flora of Australia. It will appear in Volume 34.

Australian genera of Campanulaceae (as recognised for the Flora of Australia)

† = some species native, others introduced
* = all species introduced


Isotoma anethifolia (flower)
Photo: R.Hotchkiss © ANBG 

Isotoma axillaris (flowers)
Photo: M.Fagg © ANBG 

Isotoma hypocrateriformis (flowers)
Photo: M.Fagg © ANBG 

Lobelia gibbosa (flowers)
Photo: M.Fagg © ANBG