Nature notes: Bluebell time is on the way

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Following the previous article about trees and the value of our Green Belt here is a Surrey Comet article

Beautiful: Bluebells

Beautiful: Bluebells

Tony Drakeford, Nature + wildlife expert

BLUEBELL time is fast approaching. Very soon our woods will be carpeted in swathes of glowing, fragrant deep blue bell-shaped flowers beneath a canopy of opening fresh green tree foliage, forming a brilliant colour combination especially in beech woods, the bluebells’ favoured habitat.

Occasionally they come in pink or white, contrasting beautifully with the overall massed blue.

In fact, some flowers have already opened, about two weeks earlier than usual, probably as a result of the mild winter.

But most of these early openers are of the Spanish variety or increasingly hybrids between them and our iconic native plant. Spanish bluebells grow on thicker straight stems, not pendulous like our bluebell.

They also have larger leaves and are of a washed-out insipid pale blue. Indeed, they look quite inferior and are easy to spot.

Cross-pollination between the two varieties by bees and butterflies in now commonplace. Botanists are concerned that eventually, many years from now perhaps, our genuine native bluebell will be lost, which is unthinkable.

In the Elizabethan era, starch from bulbs was used to stiffen fashionable ladies’ ruffs and was also used to manufacture glue.

On sunny spring mornings I love to watch woodland butterflies including brimstones and the delicate orange tip(pictured) hanging beneath the flowers imbibing nectar.

The bluebell season is quite short as they must flower before the woodland canopy closes in above so we must make the most of them while we can.

Editor’s addition

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 18.13.09Picture Copyright EFFRA Editor Hatchlands April 2016

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 18.13.57

Picture Copyright EFFRA Editor Hatchlands April 2016

 

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