Reddish Vale Country Park
The common bluebell flowers in April and May.
The stems are 10-30cm long and bend over at the top.
The lavender blue flowers are pendulous, bell shaped with yellowish white anthers.
In spring, many British woods are covered by dense carpets of this flower, these are commonly known as "Bluebell Woods".
Bluebells are highly rated on favourite British flower surveys, which is quite appropriate as Britain contains half the world's population.
There are a number of factors threatening the survival of our native bluebells. About 70% are found in woodland, but worryingly, much of this ideal habitat has been destroyed for agriculture or converted to coniferous woodland.
They can grow and sow seeds before the trees produce leaves, reducing space and light. However, temperatures are getting warmer, bringing spring forward by six days for every degree celsius. In other words the head start is getting smaller.
Interbreeding with Spanish bluebells and the resulting hybrids is also posing a threat to our native variety. Spanish bluebells were introduced to British gardens in the 17th century, but it wasn't until the 20th century that they escaped into the wild. As a result, a third of bluebells are either a Spanish or hybrid variety, and one in six blubell woods contain a mixture of all three species.
Bluebell woods were once riddled with folklore and fairies. These magical creatures were summoned by the ringing of the bluebells. Anyone who heard the the flowers chime would not have long to live.
In the United Kingdom the common bluebell has been a protected species since 1981. This legislation was toughened up in 1998 under schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act and as such the trade in common bluebell bulbs or seeds is an offence. Wild bluebells are protected by the legislation and it is a criminal offence to remove them.
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