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Bluebells used to be Endymion non scripta but now its Hyacinthoides non-scripta! They are probably the most spectacular of our woodland plants, although wild daffodils and Ramsons also pack quite a punch. Bluebell woods are notoriously difficult to photograph, it is very difficult to capture the blueness, they often look quite purple in a photographic image.

Bluebells first appear quite early on, in March, but the main show does not occur until mid to late April. Of course in my bit of wood it is even later.

There is a related species the Spanish Bluebell which is not nearly so nice, it has bigger more chunky flowers, it looks like a watered down hyacinth. Many people have this species in their garden. The native bluebell is far more attractive, it is delicate, the flowers are all held on one side of the stem and the flower head normally drops down, so it is more appealing, the Spanish species is upright and much more ‘in your face’ Unfortunately the two species will hybridise so the purity of our native species is getting a bit diluted.

Once the flowering is over the plants produce seeds and then die off, if you visit a bluebell wood in mid summer there is very little evidence of the bluebells, the leaves will have turned white and shrivelled up and all that is really noticeable is the flower stalks and the white seed heads containing the black seeds.

Last year I collected most of the seeds from the bluebells in my woods and then scattered them in other areas of the woods, mostly in places where there were a few half reasonable trees growing. The number of seeds I collected probably only amounted to a few hundred but if a few of them can get established it will help to spread the population. I will do the same thing each year for the next few years and we will see what happens.

You occasionally get white bluebells as shown here.White Bluebell

Unlike most woodland flowers, bluebells do have some scent, it is similar to hyacinths but not as powerful. They are pollinated by bees and hoverflies. Some bees will cut a hole in the back of the flower to get at the nectar.

Bluebells are one of the indicator species of ancient woodland, see page on ancient woodland indicators. I have several plants in my bit of Ninewells wood which indicate its ancient woodland status, such as Wood anemone, and wood sorrel. However bluebell whilst indicating ancient woodland is not one of the key indicator species, probably because people will introduce it into woodlands which are not ancient in order to prettify their woods.

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To check out other wood land wilflowers click Wye valley woodland wildflowers

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