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British bluebells under threat

A British bluebell in Gobions
A British bluebell in Gobions Woodland
Camera courtesy of Fujifilm

It's being claimed that the British bluebell, widespread in Gobions, could die out within ten years due to the spread of the Spanish variety.

The warning comes from the wild flower conservation charity Plantlife, which says crossbreeding could lead to the loss of the British species.

The Bluebell Wood at the southeast end of Gobions Woodland, has a rich carpet of British bluebells coming into flower, however many gardens in Brookmans Park are home to the Spanish variety.

Plantlife is warning people who buy bluebells to make sure they are the British native variety and not imports. You can tell the two apart by their appearance.

A Spanish bluebell
A Spanish bluebell in a Brookmans Park garden
Camera courtesy of Fujifilm

The Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) has flowers shaped like a broad bell with a flared rim.

There are about 12 to 15 flowers hang from a sturdy, round stalk with between five and six strap-like leaves per plant.

The British bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) grow on flower stems up to 30 cm long which bend over at the top.

The blue flowers are narrow, bell-shaped, slightly fragrant; yellowish-white anthers.

They have linear leaves which are 0.5-1.5 cm wide and the bulbs are up to 5 cm in diameter, yellowish-green and form shoots.

Plantlife has more on the differences and what is being done to save the British bluebell on its site.

There is also an interactive checklist to help you discover which bluebell is which.

You can discuss this issue in this site's forum where there are more pictures of the bluebells in Gobions Woodland from last year.

22 April 2003

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