Wildflower Wednesday – Bluebells and the 2014 Natural History Museum Bluebell survey

Maulden Woods Bluebells

Maulden Woods Bluebells at Dusk

I am linking in with Gail at Clayandlimestone for Wildflower Wednesday today and sharing a great project run by The Natural History Museum who are conducting a nationwide Bluebell survey The data collected will help with a study on climate change. Bluebells are a familiar spring sight in the UK and although records have been previously kept they have not been nationwide or systematic, it is hoped that by collating the data on Bluebell flowering times and identifying which species of Bluebell and then comparing results they can determine if the flowering season is changing.

The NHM have said the survey results from the past 8 years have shown that most bluebells in urban areas are now hybrids but there are countryside areas which support native bluebells, this is quite alarming!

There are now 3 types of Bluebell in the UK, the native Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta. And two non native, The Spanish Bluebell Hyacinthoides hispanica which has one more set of chromosomes, than the native Bluebell and an increasing number of hybrids Hyacinthoides x massartiana which is formed between the Spanish and the native Bluebell.

The Natural History Museum are also asking us to identify the Bluebells. The non-native species, which originate further south, than natives, may flower earlier than the English native Bluebells. Then they can determine if an early flowering season is caused by climate change or by hybridisation of the flowers themselves.

The NHM also provide guidance on identification, and apparently the easiest way to tell the difference is by pollen colour. Followed by smell and flower shape.

Recording results are really easy, enter your postcode and an interactive map comes up, where you can then pin point the location of your sighted Bluebells.

The little white flowers glowing in among the Bluebells in the top picture in our nearby wood are Greater Stitchwort.

Bluebells and Greater Stitchwort

Bluebells and Greater Stitchwort

 

4 thoughts on “Wildflower Wednesday – Bluebells and the 2014 Natural History Museum Bluebell survey

    • Hi Chris, I haven’t read of this happening, there has been some DNA research recently undertaken to study the Spanish and English Bluebells, which do hybridise easily. All 3 are in the same family and genus – hopefully with more research we will understand the extent of the hybridisation.

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