Bluebells (known as Wild Hyacinth in Scotland) are one of the UK’s most iconic species but they are increasingly under threat. We would like to know where you have seen bluebells recently so we can get a better idea of where they remain to help protect them. We are also interested in your ‘bluebell memories’- places in Fife you remember seeing them in years past- we can revisit the sites and see if they are still there!
Please let us know where you have seen bluebells by filling in this form. See below for tips on telling the different types apart.
A Scottish Wildflower
Britain is home to half of the world’s population of the bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta. It flourishes in mature broadleaf woodland with dappled sunlight. Its presence is an indicator of ancient woodland and can also show us where woodland once was.
A Spanish Invader
Native bluebells are increasingly under threat from the escape of the Spanish bluebell Hyacinthoides hispanica from gardens and subsequent hybridisation. Both the Spanish bluebell and the hybrid are more prolific than the native, taking over as they spread faster.
Bluebells are further threatened locally by habitat loss and illegal collection of bulbs from the wild. The bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
Look at a few of the freshest bluebell plants within the same clump and concentrate particularly on the flowers towards the tip of the plant as they will be most recently opened. Examining the whole range of features listed below helps to work out which type of bluebell it is likely has been seen!
Native bluebell (Wild hyacinth) Hyacinthoides non-scripta
- Deep violet-blue flowers
- Flowers droop from one side of stem
- Stems nod to one side
- Narrow leaves, generally 1-1.5cm wide
- Tips of flower fully curled back
- Strong, sweet smell
- Pollen usually cream/white
- Found mainly in woodlands, also sea cliffs, hedge banks and grasslands
Spanish bluebell Hyacinthoides hispanica
- Paler blue, pinkish or white flowers
- Flowers on all sides of stem
- Upright stems
- Broader leaves, often 3cm wide
- Flowers spreading out towards tips
- Less fragrant
- Pollen can be blueish/green
- Introduced as a garden plant – can be found anywhere
Hybrid bluebell H. x massartiana (Hyacinthoides non-scripta x H. hispanica)
- Difficult to differentiate from native and Spanish
- Characteristics can be somewhere between the two
- Found mainly in woodlands, but it can be found anywhere, including gardens