As May approaches we are starting to see the first sprinkling of bluebells appearing in the woods. I am leading a number of walks throughout May, so I thought it would be nice to be able to share some facts about bluebells with the walking group, hence this week's education slot.
- The bluebell has many names: English bluebell, wild hyacinth, wood bell, bell bottle, Cuckoo’s Boots, Wood Hyacinth, Lady’s Nightcap and Witches’ Thimbles, Hyacinthoides non-scripta
- It is against the law to intentionally pick, uproot or destroy bluebells. If you are caught picking bluebells then you can be heavily fined.
- Ants help to spread bluebell seeds, so if you live near a bluebell wood you may find them popping up in your garden.
- If you plant bluebells, you should make sure it's the English bluebell, not the Spanish version. This is a more vigorous plant and could out-compete our delicate native flower.
- Bees enjoy bluebell’s pollen & nectar. Sometimes they ‘steal’ it by biting a hole in the top of the flower.
- The chequered skipper butterfly also nectars on bluebells, as do several moth species.
- Almost half the world's bluebells are found in the UK, they’re relatively rare in the rest of the world
- Folklore used to tell that bluebells ring at daybreak to call fairies to the woods (I love this one!).
- Bluebell colonies take a long time to establish – around 5-7 years from seed to flower.
- Gum from the roots was used to glue feathers to arrows & in bookbinding.
- Bluebells can take years to recover after footfall damage. If a bluebell’s leaves are crushed, they die back from lack of food as the leaves cannot photosynthesise.
- Bluebell juice was said to cure snake bites, but is chemically very potent & can be toxic in large doses.
These are stunningly beautiful wild flowers and I love this time of year. I know we can't pick them, but we can take lots of photos!
I hope you are enjoying these weekly education slots as much as I am enjoying the research.