10 Amazing Facts About Bluebells

Bluebells in woodland, photo by Denise Peters

Here are 10 incredible things you may not know about Hyacinthoides non-scripta... aka bluebells.

1 Around half the world’s population of these iconic wildflowers grow in the UK

2 Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, bluebells are protected and if you dig up and sell a wild bluebell you can be heavily fined.

3 The first bluebells are believed to have appeared in Britain after the last Ice Age.

4 It takes at least five years for a bluebell seed to grow into a bulb.

5 There are rare ‘albino’ bluebells which are white as they lack the blue pigment.

6 Bees rely heavily on the flowers’ nectar in the spring but sometimes they ‘steal’ it by biting a hole in the bottom of the bell.

Spanish bluebells

Spanish bluebells

7 Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) is a non-native garden escapee threatening our native species. The easiest way to tell the difference between native and non-native bluebells is to look at the colour of the pollen.

If it is creamy-white then it is native - any other colour such as pale green or blue means it's non-native.

The native flower stem droops or nods distinctly to one side whereas the non-native’s stem is stiff and upright. Native flowers have a strong, sweet scent whereas non-native are almost odourless.

8 Archaeological evidence has shown that Bronze Age people used bluebell glue to attach feathers to, or 'fletch', their arrows.

9 Bluebells are also called ‘fairy flowers.’ According to an old myth, fairies used bluebells to lure and trap people passing by in the woods – especially children!

10 Bluebells are poisonous and contain about 15 biologically active compounds to defend themselves from animals and insect pests. But scientists are now researching how these toxic chemicals could one day help treat cancer.