Coll’s Machair…The Hebridean Harebell

posted in: One Man's Island | 2

Yesterday was a tad breezy for flower photography but never the less I tried my luck.

The Machair is all over Coll and one of the best places is at Feall.  One of the flowers that make up this vibrant colourful landscape is the Harebell. Because of the wind I had to use a higher ISO than I normally use. I used a tripod and 100mm macro lens as normal and tried to get as blurry a background as I could. I do this to emphasise the flower and use the background as a wash of colour. It was an overcast day which is good for flower photography as shadows can ruin a macro close up shot.

There are a lot of interesting facts about this little flower, so I’ve copied some facts from various websites and posted them here for you to read…Oh and some of my photographs too.

Cheers for now,


Harebells – Blue / Purple Wildflowers
Lovely blue bell shaped flowers display through the summer months in the Western Isles especially in the machair’s. Bright blue nodding heads, distinctive and they really are beautiful wildflowers.

The harebells are hairless creeping perennial herbs which have long, trailing stems with small, club-shaped leaves at the base. The stem leaves are quite long, and its blue, bell-shaped flowers hang in clusters at the tips of the stems. 

Seen All Over The Western Isles

Harebells, blue bell shaped wildflowers that are native to the Hebrides. The Harebell is easily identified by its fragile blue flowers, shaped like bells and heart shaped leaves which are usually slightly toothed.

The foliage dies back in the spring as the flowers emerge on their erect stems. Harebells grow in clumps flowering in the machair during July to September.

The harebell flowers have five violet-blue, pink, or white petals making up the bell shape. They have 5 long green pointed sepals behind them

Common Names

Sometimes called the Bluebell of Scotland although the Bluebell (or Endymion Scriptus) is a different plant altogether.

Petal Lobes
The petal lobes are triangular in shape and have an outward curve. They bloom on long thin stems either singly or in loose clusters through the summer months here in the Hebrides. The flowers are scentless

Seeds are produced in a capsule about 3–4 mm diameter. The seeds are released by pores at the base of the capsule. Seedlings are very very tiny.

Nectar for Insects
Harebell wildflowers are regularly visited by bumblebees and Honey Bees, providing an autumnal source of nectar for these insects. On one of my photos you can see an ant do that very thing.

Harebells are also sometimes called The Devils Bell and The Fairies Thimble as its reputed to have sheltered the fairies. It was called Harebell as folk believed that witches used juices squeezed from the flower to turn themselves into hares

Witches are said to have used it in their “flying” ointment. The devil is also said to be close to this flower and it is such a shame that this lovely flower is reputed to bring bad luck.


Harebell leaves can be eaten raw in a salad and the plant is known to have beneficial properties

Medicinal Uses
The harebell were used in remedies for earache which was made from the roots. Harebells are also used in a wash for the treatment of sore eyes.

Other conditions Harebell is said to cure include depression and if the root is chewed, it may help to treat heart and lung complaints

Close Association with Scotland

Harebell, often called “bluebell”, is a flower found around the world in the Northern Hemisphere but most often, associated with Scotland.

 Blue Dye of Harebell Used for Tartan

Harebell was formerly used in the manufacture of blue dye for tartans and is the symbol of the MacDonald clan. 

Harebell – Milky Sap

The harebell plant has a milky sap when the stem or leaves are broken. The plants are much hardier than they look.

Wide Variety of Conditions & Habitats

Harebells grow in a variety of habitats, from full sun to shade, dry to moderate moisture, in the woods, the meadowland, near the , cliffs, and beaches and also in sandy, gravely soil.

Victorian Flower Language

In the Victorian language of flowers, bluebells of Scotland signify grief, gratitude, or submissionThe Victorians believed that fairies slept in the bells or used them as goblets for dew

Colour – Bright Blue – Purple – White
The colours of the harebell range from a pale blue through to a brighter blue, to almost purple and very occasionally a white colour

machair Harebell 3machair Harebell 4machair Harebellmachair Harebell 2

2 Responses

  1. Martin Mclaughlin

    Another interesting blog Al … cracking wee flower and read mate ?

  2. Beautiful + informative Alan – Tapaleidh

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