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Bluebell Identification

By Rachel on the 28th April, 2017


Not sure whether you’ve seen a native, hybrid or Spanish bluebell? Here are some identification tips.

It’s bluebell season and many of you will have been out enjoying the views of thousands of bluebells. However, many people aren’t aware that our native bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) is under threat from a Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica). The Spanish bluebell is often grown in gardens and cross breeds with our native bluebell to create a hybrid resulting in the loss of our true native bluebell.

Bluebell Identification Tips

Native Bluebells

Leaves: 1 to 1.5 cm wide (narrower than Spanish bluebells)
Flower colour: Deep blue, but sometimes white
Flower stalk: Flowers on one side of drooping/nodding stem
Scent: Sweet smell
Pollen colour: Cream

Native Bluebell Native Bluebell

Spanish Bluebells

Leaves: 3 cm wide (wider than native bluebells)
Flower colour: Paler blue, often white or pink
Flower stalk: Flowers all around a more upright stem
Scent: None
Pollen colour: Blue-ish

Spanish Bluebell Spanish Bluebell

Hybrid Bluebells

Hybrids will have a range of characteristics from both native and Spanish bluebells.



How You Can Help

To help reduce the spread of Spanish and hybrid bluebells, do not plant them in your garden.

If you already have them in your garden and want to remove them it is recommended that they are dug up after flowering, when they are still in leaf. The bulbs should be disposed of carefully, ideally leaving them out to dry out for at least a month to ensure they are dead before disposal.


Author

Rachel

Rachel Barber

Rachel has an MSc (Distinction) in Ecology and Management of the Natural Environment from Bristol University. Prior to founding Smart Ecology Rachel worked for a respected Gloucestershire ecology consultancy and has also worked for a large multidisciplinary consultancy. Rachel is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (MCIEEM). Rachel is an experienced ecologist specialised in European Protected Species (EPS). She holds survey licences for bats, hazel dormice and great crested newts.