Floral Focus: Bluebell

British bluebell

Bluebell woods

Spanish bluebell

I love bluebell woods. They’re an important part of our natural heritage and such a stunning sight (and fragrance) when all the flowers are in bloom. One of around eleven different types, the British native bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta (shown in the top photo) has a gently nodding head with dark blue, almost purple flowers that fall to the bottom of the stem,  a strong sweet fragrance and creamy-white pollen.

In the UK we also have the Spanish bluebell Hyacinthoides hispanics that has been grown in gardens and then dumped into other areas. There are records dating back to 1909 of this import. The Spanish bluebell has larger, paler flowers (that can also be pink or white) across both sides of the stem, broader leaves and little or no scent. This readily cross pollinates with our native type, resulting in an almost scentless hybrid that is now more common than the Spanish parent—which I think is what is shown in the photo at the bottom, which was found in a garden.

The native bluebell is now on a list of threatened species, and how sad it would be if our woods were filled with scentless flowers. The Natural History Museum have a bluebell project,  with an online survey which you can join. They’re recording both the types of bluebell and the time of year they’re arriving, as an indicator of climate change.

Do you have bluebell woods near you?



Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?


NB: Because bluebells are protected through the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, if you want to grow native bluebells, you must find a reputable supplier who has not collected them illegally from the wild. 


13 Responses to Floral Focus: Bluebell

  1. One of my early memories was seeing a bluebell woods on my first ever school trip to a farm. Thanks for bringing back such lovely memories.

  2. Charmaine says:

    aren’t they beautiful… I must try and seek out a bluebell wood around here! x
    Charmaine recently posted…pottering, sowing and some growth…My Profile

  3. Emma says:

    Elizabeth, I’ve so enjoyed this post – it takes me back to my childhood, as my grandmother had a bluebell wood at the end of her garden. It’s been too long since I walked amongst bluebells… maybe I’ll find some this weekend, but your post has done a lot to help bring back the joy that they give!
    Emma 🙂

    • Elizabeth says:

      What a wonderful memory, it sounds like your Grandma lived somewhere really special. I do hope you go and seek out a bluebell wood 🙂

  4. We are walking, hiking a lot lately and no I havent seen any bluebells field thats why I envy those who do! Will definitely answer this survey =) #HDYGG
    Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) recently posted…How Does Your Garden GrowMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      Tehy tend to be in woodland, so keep an eye out if you’re near any woods on your walks! How brilliant that you’ll take part in the survey 🙂

  5. We are lucky here in France not to have the Spanish bluebell (which is your bottom photo) and like you say – to lose that magical scent of a true bluebell wood would be very sad.
    Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault recently posted…Goodies from EnglandMy Profile

  6. They are beautiful. I have bluebells in my garden, and I’ve picked some today and popped them in a vase as I love looking at them. Makes me smile every time I walk into the room now, as well as the garden.
    The Reading Residence recently posted…Creating a Wildlife GardenMy Profile

  7. We do have some near to us and I discovered one that I didn’t know existed by chance on a walk this week too which felt a bit of a bonus at the time! They are all on their way out here now though, shrivelled up and sad looking *sobs*
    Mammasaurus recently posted…Gone Yurting….Family TimeMy Profile

  8. Annie says:

    lovely images. We have bluebells growing quite happily on a grassy bank quite near the sea x

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