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How to Identify Native English Bluebells When Walking in the UK

Posted by Last Updated February 12, 2014

Walking surrounded by carpets of luscious fragrant bluebells is considered to be the very essence of springtime in the UK, but the native English bluebell is under threat from cultivated varieties that have escaped our gardens and are colonising the natural environment.

Native English Bluebells

So as you stroll in the countryside take a moment to identify our precious native English bluebells which have the following characteristics:

Spanish Bluebells
  • Delicate deep blue flower heads that dip over from the stem
  • Scent is sweet and powerful
  • Pollen is a rich creamy colour
  • Leaves are slender and pointed

The main invading species of non-native bluebell is the Spanish bluebell which is popular with gardeners as they give a prominent display in shady borders but have escaped in the wild. These have quite different properties including:

A Carpet of Native English Bluebells
  • Taller upright flower stems, paler in colour
  • Little or no scent
  • Pollen has bluish tinges
  • Fewer leaves with blunt tips

However, with many hybrids also abundant in gardens and also in woodlands across the UK, crossbreeding has diluted some of the more unique characters of the native bluebell so in some areas, particularly near towns you can find mixed species.

You can learn more and have a go at identifying bluebells by joining our special guided walking holiday breaks in April and May visiting some beautiful bluebell woods on the coasts of Cornwall and Devon including Hartland Abbey and Clovelly.