Skip to Content

Harebell: The Unique Purple Bell Plant on the Alpine Slope

Harebell: The Unique Purple Bell Plant on the Alpine Slope

Ever go hiking in the Rocky Mountains and see a beautiful purple bell-shaped flower? These subtle and unique purple bell flowers are called Harebells!

You can find harebells growing alongside trails at higher elevations, often near aspen groves. Sometimes, harebells grow solo and sometimes they grow in clusters of 4 to 8.

After years of thru-hiking in the Western United States, I’m still in awe when I find them.

Keep reading to learn more about these amazing bell-shaped purple flowers!

How to Identify Harebells on Your Hike

Here are some facts to help you identify them yourself:



Harebell General Characteristics:

  • 2-8 inches high, slim
  • Perennial
  • Grows on alpine slopes between Alaska and British Columbia and mountainous areas in the Rocky Mountains from Idaho to New Mexico
  • Sometimes in a single plant, sometimes in a cluster of plants


  • Alternate, long and thin
  • Also has a few basal leaves that have an oval or heart shape


  • Light purple to light blue and bell shaped
  • Five petals, can have one or multiple per plant
  • Hangs down to resemble a bell


  • Capusule based (dry that splits when mature)
  • Small, 5-8mm

The Harebell & The Nature Journal

Nature journal detailing the purple bell shaped flowers of a harebell.
Nature Journal of Harebells

If you really want to get to know a plant better, try journaling about it!

Here is an example of my nature journal for one of my favorite flowers, the harebell.

In this two page journal spread, I printed the polaroid photo first. I really wanted to focus on a photo which displayed the harebell from multiple angles within the same photo. Since the bell shape appears different depending on the height at which you look, I wanted them all represented. If you like the polaroid, you can find the printer, here.

Often, you will find sketches in nature journals. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but I often like to try.

As you learn new plants, especially in the beginning, adding your own plant facts is very helpful!

My favorite plant guide is Plants of the Rocky Mountains.

In your observations, it’s important to add where you saw the plant. You can add additional observations on where you have seen it previously to add more detail.

If you’re in a mountainous area, adding the elevation where you saw the plant can help you find it again. Often plants only grow in certain elevation ranges.

Thru-Hikes Where You Can Find Harebells

You can find these unique purple bell-shaped flowers in mountainous areas on many thru-hikes in the western United States.

Some of these trails include: the Continental Divide Trail, Grand Enchantment Trail, Colorado Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail, and likely several others.

Saturday 24th of October 2020

These always make me hungry for Tacos.


Saturday 24th of October 2020

I don't really see the connection, but tacos are pretty good!

Comments are closed.