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.

  1. 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
  2. It is against the law to intentionally pick, uproot or destroy bluebells. If you are caught picking bluebells then you can be heavily fined.
  3. Ants help to spread bluebell seeds, so if you live near a bluebell wood you may find them popping up in your garden.
  4. 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.
  5.  Bees enjoy bluebell’s pollen & nectar. Sometimes they ‘steal’ it by biting a hole in the top of the flower.
  6. The chequered skipper butterfly also nectars on bluebells, as do several moth species.
  7. Almost half the world's bluebells are found in the UK, they’re relatively rare in the rest of the world
  8. Folklore used to tell that bluebells ring at daybreak to call fairies to the woods (I love this one!).
  9. Bluebell colonies take a long time to establish – around 5-7 years from seed to flower.
  10. Gum from the roots was used to glue feathers to arrows & in bookbinding.
  11. 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. 
  12. Bluebell juice was said to cure snake bites, but is chemically very potent & can be toxic in large doses.

SUMMARY

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.