I have been using the internet to try to identify alpine flowers photographed in July 2007 on a shortish walk above Chianale (1800 m), in the Italian Valle Varaita (bordering the French maritime alps).

I have managed all except the blue/lilac one shown below. It looks a bit like a scabious or perhaps a knapweed, but neither seem to correspond properly. Anyone know?

Blue alpine flower Group of flowers

Blue alpine flower: close up Close-up with triply split petals indicated by red arrows

  • $\begingroup$ Just added a close-up. Thought I had done so before, but there must have been a computer glitch somewhere as there is no edit record for deletion. Anyway, this shows why I am accepting the suggestion of Phyteuma orbiculare (for what my opinion is worth). $\endgroup$
    – David
    Aug 9, 2018 at 11:34

2 Answers 2


This is not Jasione montana, but Phyteuma orbiculare, another member of the family Campanulaceae. Except for the different flowers, Jasione has no leaves on the upper part of the stem. This plant has. And these leaves are toothed and have a heart-shaped base, unlike Jasione. And finally: Phyteuma is resticted to calcarious soils, whereas Jasione prefers non-calcarious soils. picture from Wikipedia


  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Looks more like it in one particular respect. That is the tips of the petals. In all the pics of Jasione I have found they seem lighter coloured and hardly split, whereas in my photo (you can see this if you zoom in) and this pic of Phyteuma (and others on-line) they are clearly split into three and curled back. I'll go back to my higher-res original and add to my question with a close-up later. This site has it in the appropriate Italian province of Cuneo (CN) at 1800 and 2500 m. Again, I'll wait before accepting. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Aug 7, 2018 at 10:02
  • $\begingroup$ Want to know a bit more about anatomy/morphology. What are the peripheral tri-furcate things? Are they anthers? And what is the central stalk like thing? is it the gynoecium? Btw I am not familiar with campanulaceae $\endgroup$
    – user25568
    Aug 9, 2018 at 11:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Always Confused Eh, no. Every purple stalk is a seperate flower and the tri-furcate things are the gynoecia. I don't know what this central thing is, it doesn't appear to be there in every flower. BTW: isn't this a new question?! :-) $\endgroup$
    – RHA
    Aug 9, 2018 at 18:52

I think the correct answer is @RHA's answer. I will leave my answer just for future reference and discussion.

Could it be Jasione montana?

Sheep's bit scabious, Jasione montana, is a low-growing plant in the Campanulaceae family found in rocky places and upland regions of Europe and western Asia. Other common names include blue bonnets, blue buttons, blue daisy, iron flower, sheep's scabious and sheep's bit.

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Your flower's petals look a bit more "spiky" the Jasione montana though. As a kid (I grew up in Switzerland), I remember seeing bumblebees flying around these flowers. Have you seen any?

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Despite the difference in spikiness, it looks as if it could indeed be Jasione montane. Pity I didn't take a sharp close up, but it's my wife that's really interested in what species flowers are. I usually leave them out of photo-records, but even I find the profusion of flowers in alpine meadows stunning. I'll wait a couple of days before accepting to allow for other responses. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Aug 5, 2018 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ I think this is not Jasione, but Phyteuma, see my answer below. And about those bumblebees: could this have been a much larger blue plant: succisa pratensis? That plant I had in my garden and attracted loads of bumblebees. $\endgroup$
    – RHA
    Aug 6, 2018 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ I think you are correct. I will leave my post just for future reference but upvoted yours to bring it to the light. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Aug 6, 2018 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ I never answered about the bumblebees. Don't remember any. All I remember is the millions of insects that bit me, but that always happens when I'm walking as something in my sweat seems to attract them. (Same recently in California and Texas. Not a problem in Glasgow.) $\endgroup$
    – David
    Aug 7, 2018 at 9:41

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