Background: Speciose clades usually harbor species with a broad spectrum of adaptive strategies and complex distribution patterns, and thus constitute ideal systems to disentangle biotic and abiotic causes underlying species diversification. The delimitation of such study systems to test evolutionary hypotheses is difficult because they often rely on artificial genus concepts as starting points. One of the most prominent examples is the bellflower genus Campanula with some 420 species, but up to 600 species when including all lineages to which Campanula is paraphyletic. We generated a large alignment of petD group II intron sequences to include more than 70% of described species as a reference. By comparison with partial data sets we could then assess the impact of selective taxon sampling strategies on phylogenetic reconstruction and subsequent evolutionary conclusions.