Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non scripta)
Bluebells, the British Isles’ vision in spring, I don’t know anyone who does not say ‘oooh how lovely’ when they see a wood with its carpet of blue – well apart from my husband, but I’m sure he thinks it! They can make wonderful garden plants too, but they do easily spread.
However, English bluebells (hyacinthoides non scripta) are being infiltrated by Spanish ones and we don’t really want those as they are not so pretty. So how do you know the difference. English Bluebells; the flowers all hang to one side and the stems ‘nod’, the flowers are small and dainty and have a lovely scent.
However, Spanish bluebells are here, and they interbreed with ours creating hybrids: The flowers are just about on one side, but the dainty nod has gone along with most of the smell.
Until you meet the Spanish version, flowers standing stiffly to attention and poking out in all directions, and usually no smell at all.
English bluebells are protected in the countryside so no picking from the wild, they need all the help they can get to stop being ‘bred away’ by the Spanish ones.
So if you want Bluebells, please only buy Hyacinthoides non scripta and know where they come from. Secondly, if you can, get rid of the spanish invaders and their hybrid offspring from your own gardens if you can, it will help slow down the loss of one of our nation’s best loved plants.