What is Rampion and How Do You Use It?

FR: Raiponce

GER: Rapunzel-Glockenblume IT: Raperonzolo SP: Raponchigo

BOT: Campanula rapunculus (Rapanculus verus)

FAM: Campanulaceae

The German name for this plant is known to many as it is also the name of the long-haired heroine in the Grimms’ Fairy Story, Rapunzel. (Rampions were nicked from the witch’s garden.) It was, as one might surmise, a plant well known in the past, though uncommon today, except in France and Switzerland.

The rampion is a native of Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia: in Britain, it is a local escape and is a close relative of the harebell or ‘bluebell’ of Scotland. The flowers are mauve, clustered in spikes, and there is a white radish-like root a foot long, but usually only half an inch thick. The seeds are the smallest of any vegetable, and for even sowing they are usually mixed with a little fine sand. Sow in situ in late spring, firm without covering and water frequently and carefully till they take hold. The plants grow to about two feet high and should have a four-inch space between each plant. A light rich soil is preferred, with some shade and plenty of water. Rampions are biennial. The roots can be lifted in early winter and stored in sand. Both roots and leaves are used raw in salads. With a name like Rapunzel this is the salad for entertaining ballerinas, but don’t confuse it with ramsons (wild garlic).

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