Tuesday, July 07, 2009

100 Species Challenge: Bluebell

I have a backlog of flowers I have identified, so I'm going to try to catch up a bit over the next few days. Starting off with the bluebell ...

Scientific name: Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Family: Hyacinthaceae
Flowers: April to June

'I do not think I have ever seen anything more beautiful than the bluebell I have been looking at. I know the beauty of our Lord by it.' (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

The common bluebell is native to the British Isles and rare elsewhere (the American bluebell, Mertensia Virginica, is an entirely different species). Currently the native bluebell is under threat due to encroachment by the more hardy Spanish bluebell and hybridised versions. As a result it is a protected plant, and it is illegal to dig up or destroy bluebells.

In the language of flowers, bluebells are supposed to represent constancy and everlasting love. In folklore the bells were believed to call the fairies when rung; walking carelessly through a mass of bluebells disturbs the fairies and triggers their spells; and anyone who hears bluebells ring is supposed to die within a year. To bring bluebells indoors is considered unlucky.

Thinking about bluebells brought back a hazy memory of a Scottish folksong, The Bluebells of Scotland. You can find the words and music here.

100 Species Challenge Number 21
List of plants identified to date


Sandra said...

I love bluebell, they truly are magnificent :)

Jennifer said...

I didn't know the British and American bluebell differed. I'll have to look into this more. Thanks.