Bluebells are with us early this year, the mild weather brought them into bloom at the end of
March in this part of the world.
The delicate bell-shaped blooms are definitely something to be enjoyed en masse – a carpet of bluebells in woodland is a gorgeous thing to behold – and wonderfully British.
Sadly our native bluebell is under threat from an aggressive hybrid. Apparently, these invaders are spreading rapidly and are appearing in woodlands rather than just urban areas.
Bluebells are protected and it is illegal to dig them up from the wild. However, there are various nurseries that grow them for sale. They are best planted around this time of year ‘in the green’, which means that they appear with leaves rather than as dried bulbs. You don’t need a huge woodland to grow bluebells as they will grow happily under deciduous shrubs, or along the bottom of a hedge.
Can you tell a native bluebell from an interloper? Nope – well here’s a quick guide – you too can become an instant Bluebell expert!
Native bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)
- Flowers have a strong, sweet scent
- Pollen is creamy-white
- Flower stems nod to one side
- Deep violet-blue in colour
- Often found in woodlands or shady areas
Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica)
- Native to Portugal and western Spain
- Pollen is deep blue
- More upright than native plants
- Flowers can be pale to mid blue, white or pink
- Grown in gardens and found in the countryside
Hybrid bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana)
- Flowers range from dark to pale blue, pink and white
- A hybrid of native and Spanish bluebells
- Can show characteristics of both parent plants
- Widespread in urban areas; has been recorded broad leaf woodland
- Thought to be more common than the Spanish variety
In the meantime just enjoy that blue haze of little flowers anywhere you can – the bluebell native or interloper is a beautiful sign of Spring!