Wild Flower of the Week – Bluebells
A carpet of bluebells (wild hyacinths for many in Scotland, where a bluebell is traditionally Campanula rotundifolia) is one of the glories of spring. They are usually found in old deciduous woods, where light can penetrate to the forest floor before the trees leaf out. Amazingly, around a third of the world population of these bulbs grows in the British Isles. Spanish bluebells seem to have escaped from gardens in the 1900s and are now relatively widespread though are usually in or near towns. The fear was that hybridisation would adversely affect the native species. However, recent research led by RBGE has established that the natives are much better at reproduction than the invaders. It is still good practice not to plant or dispose of non-native plants in the countryside. To read more on the research, click here.
The native plant is Hyacinthoides non-scripta with deep blue flowers drooping to one side of the stem with reflexed petals and a strong scent. Hyacinthoides hispanica is typically bigger with paler blue, more open flowers arranged all round a stiff upright stem. Flowers are usually unscented, and the pollen is green or blue. Hybrids can show a mix of these characteristics. They are much more likely to occur in white or pink forms than our native plant.