Nature creates blue magic around this time of year in British forests and cliff tops stretching from Scotland in the north to Cornwall in the far south – it’s bluebell time.
British bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside act. You cannot pick them or dig them up. If you have bluebells in your garden then most likely they have been bought at a garden centre and will be Spanish bluebells, Hyacinthoides hispanica. Unfortunately the Spanish bluebell is more vigorous and can crossbreed with the native bluebell creating a fertile hybrid. This is threatening them as it dilutes their unique charateristics.
The British bluebell has varying shades of blue (sometimes white, rarely pink) tube-like bells with the petal tips curled right back. They hang mostly to one side of a nodding stem. The stem nods more as the flower matures, flowers smell sweetly – the pollen on the anthers is cream coloured. The anther is the disc at the tip of the stamen where the pollen collects.
|Spanish bluebells are pale blue, sometimes pink or white. The stems have flowers all around them and are upright. They have almost no scent and the bells are a true bell shape with the petals flaring out – it has blue pollen on its anthers. Seeing them together it is much easier to spot the differences.|