Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta

Bluebells spend most of the year as bulbs underground in ancient woodlands, only emerging to flower and leaf from April onwards. This early spring flowering allows them to make the most of the sunlight that is still able to make it to their forest floor habitat and attracts the attention of plenty of pollinating insects. Millions of bulbs may exist in one bluebell wood, causing the blue carpets we so keenly associate with spring, and new plants are sometimes able to split off from these bulbs and grow as clones.

Behaviour

Bluebells are perhaps one of our most famous and unmistakeable woodland flowers – look for long and narrow, drooping leaf fronds and bending flower stems heavy with the nodding, blue bells that give this flower its name.

Size

Height: up to 50cm

Status

Protected in the UK under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

Distribution

Widespread.

When to see

April – May

Facts

The Bluebell's Latin name, Hyacinthoides, comes from a Greek myth: when the Prince Hyacinthus died, the tears of the god Apollo spelled the word 'alas' on the petals of the hyacinth flower that sprang up from his blood. Non-scripta means unlettered and distinguishes this bluebell from the similar-looking hyacinth.

Common name

Bluebell

Species name

Hyacinthoides non-scripta

When to see in Scotland

April – May

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