by Kristl Walek
Edraianthus (Grassy Bells) is a small genus in the Campanulaceae, or
Bellflower family. The plants are especially well represented in the
Balkans, where eight of the species are endemic, but their range extends
eastward to the Caucasus. The genus name is from the Greek hedraios
(sitting), and anthos, (a flower).
The bluish-purple or white bellflowers in early- to mid-summer are
usually carried in terminal clusters above grassy foliage, accounting
for the common name. In many of the species the flowers are clustered
at the tips of procumbent leafy branches lying out from the crown like
the spokes of a wheel.
Edraianthus pumilio, from Western Yugoslavia and the gem of
the genus, is very different. It forms a tight, compact cushion of narrow,
silvery foliage, literally covered in June by solitary (not clustered),
almost stem-less, up-facing, rich violet-blue bells. White forms can
small gem, from 1-3cm tall, occurs in the wild on limestone cliffs and
crevices fully exposed to the extremes of both summer sun and winter
cold. However, in our eastern Canadian gardens we should plant it somewhat
carefully. While well-drained conditions are essential, as well as plenty
of sun, it can tend to brown and rot in our prolonged muggy summers.
An open, north-facing slope or crevice on limestone is probably best.
Germination is not entirely straightforward and takes
some patience. Low temperatures of about 5°C and some months of
waiting will be required. The natural low germination rate of the species
is well documented, but even one plant in the garden is well worth the