Bellflower (Family Campanulaceae)
The Family Campanulaceae (also Bellflower Family), of Order
Asterales, contains about 2000 species, in 70 genera, of herbaceous
plants, shrubs, and rarely small trees, often with milky non-toxic
sap. Among them are the familiar garden plants Campanula (bell-
flower), Lobelia, and Platycodon (balloonflower).
This family is very cosmopolitan but concentrated in the Northern
Hemisphere. However in the Southern Hemisphere, South Africa is
remarkably rich in members of this family. These species are absent
in the Sahara, Antarctica and northern Greenland.
Members of Family Campanulaceae are used for ornamentals, but
have other benefits. Many species produce chemical compounds in
wide variety. Some of these compounds are highly toxic, but others
have been used to treat asthma and other breathing disorders. Perhaps
the best known compound is lobeline, a mild narcotic which provides
the slight rush and calming effect of nicotine, but which does not
appear to be addictive. As such, it can be used as an aid to quit smok-
ing, though its sale is now regulated in some countries.
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