English Nature are asking gardeners to think carefully about the wider environmental impact that their garden bluebells may have.
The British Isles are of primary international importance for the native bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta
): we may be home to around half of the total world population. However, our native bluebells hybridise freely with the imported spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica
) producing viable offspring (Hyacinthoides x massartiana
) which can out-compete and usurp our native plants.
English Nature would like gardeners (especially those close to wild bluebell colonies) to plant bluebells from reputable stockists of native Hyacinthoides non-scripta
and remove spanish bluebells (to the compost heap; not
the back lane!). You can tell them apart thus:
- Native bluebells have fairly narrow leaves, and the flower stem droops or nods distinctly to one side at the top. The flowers have quite a strong, sweet scent and are deep violet-blue.
- Spanish bluebells have stiff upright flower stems and pale to mid blue flowers, usually sticking out all the way around the stem with little or no scent.
- Hybrid bluebells have a mixture of these features and can look like the Native or the Spanish bluebell.