Showy flowering trees add beauty and often fragrance to the landscape and to the home garden. Bell-shaped flowers are especially attractive and are displayed on blossoming trees in all growing regions of the world. Blue, pink, orange and white are among the colours of bell-shaped tree flowers. While the bell or cup shape facilitates pollination by various means, the showy floral presentation is what entices gardeners to grow trees with bell-shaped flowers.
Tropical and Sub-tropical Trees
Rothmannia globosa, a small tropical evergreen tree native to South Africa, is commonly called September Bells. Fragrant, small, white bell-shaped flowers are borne in late winter through early spring in the Northern Hemisphere. September Bells is in full bloom in September its native habitat. The tree grows as high as 30 feet, producing small, rounded fruit, and is propagated from seeds. Brachychiton acerifolius is known as the Illawarra Flame Tree. This tall Australian tree reaches 100 feet high in the wild or 50 feet in cultivation. Small, crimson bell-shaped flowers cluster at the ends of branches, creating a spectacular show on the leafless branches.
Trees for Low-Frost Regions
Halesia diptera trees are known as Silverbell trees. The Two-Winged Silverbell reaches 30 feet high with a dense, rounded canopy in a sunny garden. It is native to the southern United States. Showy white bell-shaped flowers are borne in spring followed by two-winged seed capsules. Crinodendron patagua is the Chilean lantern tree. It grows to 25 feet tall and wide, with abundant small, white bell-shaped flowers through summer. Dropping red seed capsules create a messy nuisance. Abutilon is commonly called bellflower or Chinese lantern tree. It is grown as a potted specimen in cold climates. Named cultivars are available with pink, orange, red, blue, yellow, white or multicoloured bell-shaped flowers.
Deciduous catalpa trees produce showy 2-inch flower clusters in late spring. Bell-shaped flowers are pure white with soft-yellow markings. Large, heart-shaped leaves are displayed with the flowers. C. bignonioides is the common catalpa tree. "Aurea" has decorative yellow leaves. Styrax trees display clusters of fragrant, white bell-shaped flowers in spring. Several varieties are available including named cultivars with pink flowers. Numerous varieties and dozens of named magnolia tree cultivars are widely marketed. Flower colour choices are shades of pink, white, purple, red or yellow. Flower forms vary and include cup, cup-and-saucer or bell-shapes. Select cultivars of cold-tolerant flowering trees suited to your garden by consulting a local tree nursery.
Large yucca plants are used as trees in landscapes where adapted. Y. aloifolia develops a trunk 20 feet high. A showy flower spike 2-feet-long covered in 4-inch white bell-shaped flowers eventually develops. After flowering, the trunk ceases to grow and a lateral bud becomes a new terminal shoot. Offsets growing near the base of the plant form a thicket. "Marginata" has yellow-edged leaves. Y. elata grows to more than 15 feet high with a branch spread of more than 6 feet. Flower stalks emerge as much as 6 feet above the foliage carrying dozens of white, bell-shaped flowers. It is the state flower of New Mexico.
- University of Illinois Extension; Selecting Trees for Your Home; Carolina Silverbell
- Australian Native Plants Society: Brachychiton Acerifolius
- Top Tropicals Plant Catalog: Rothmannia globosa
- Desert-Tropicals.com: Illawarra Flame Tree
- "Sunset Western Garden Book" ; Kathleen Morris Brenzel, et al. ; 2007
- Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images