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Britain's Favourite WildflowerBluebells

By Leanne Downs25 May 2018

A fine and subtle spirit dwells
In every little flower,
Each one its own sweet feeling breathes
With more or less of power.
There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell.

Anne Bronte

The beautiful blue Hyacinthoides non-scripta is more commonly known as the Bluebell. Here in the UK we have around half of the world’s population, making our woodlands one of the best places to see them in all their glory.

A carpet of blue in King’s Wood in Kent, one of the best places to see bluebells in abundance

How do I identify the common bluebell?

The flowers are an intense blue-purple colour or less commonly white or pink. They have white or cream coloured anthers. Unfortunately our native bluebells are under-threat from the invasive Spanish Bluebell and Hybrid’s between the two species. It can be difficult to tell a hybrid bluebell and a native bluebell apart, sometimes only DNA analysis can provide the answer.

Where can I find Bluebells?

Bluebells can be found all over the UK except for the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland. They prefer slightly acidic soil in shady damp areas and are mostly found in deciduous woodlands or less commonly along hedgerows and open land.

When is the best time of year to see bluebells in flower?

Bluebells begin to flower in April and are usually at their peak in early May, lasting through to the end of May. A short but spectacular display. These small flowers carpet our woodlands blue and are an important staple for bees, butterflies and other insects in these months.

Are bluebells protected?

Yes, bluebells are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Removing them for sale is prohibited and digging up wild common bluebell bulbs is a criminal offence, and you can be fined up to £5,000 per bulb.

Are bluebells edible?

No, all parts of the bluebell plant are toxic, though parts of the plant have been used for medicinal benefits, though not widely.


A sea of blue and green in our woodlands, the nation’s best loved wildflower

Leanne Downs

About Leanne Downs

Leanne Downs is the content editor for Thryve and works as an outdoor writer, blogger and photographer. She loves hiking, hillwalking and wild camping.

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