Bluebells herald the coming spring


In April and May our ancient woodlands abound with the much-loved carpets of bluebells. They are iconic, enchanting and herald the beginning of spring. There is something captivating about them that draws us in.

Bluebells are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). This prohibits anyone digging up the plant or bulb from the countryside, and landowners are similarly prevented from removing bluebells from their private land with a view to selling them. Trading in wild bluebell bulbs and seeds is an offence.

The bluebell’s Latin name, Hyacinthoides, comes from a Greek myth. When the prince Hyacinthus died, the tears of the god Apollo spelled the word “alas” on the petals of the hyacinth flower that sprang up from his blood.

The Wildlife Trusts sympathetically manage many woodland nature reserves for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife including the carpets of bluebell.

According to folklore, the fairies were called when the bluebell was rung. Some people believed that if you heard a bluebell ring, you or someone close to you will die. It was thought to be unlucky to walk through a field of bluebells, as the spells that fairies have hung on the bluebell flowers will be disturbed.

The Greek name for this flower is “Endymion.” Selene fell in love with Endymion and put him into an eternal sleep so that she alone could enjoy his beauty.

Bluebells were once used by herbalists to help to cure leprosy, to prevent nightmares, and spider-bites and tuberculosis but, in fact, the bluebell is poisonous.

All parts of the bluebell plant contain toxic glycosides that are poisonous to humans, dogs, horses and cattle. If any part of the plant is eaten, it can cause serious stomach upset, and if consumed in large quantities, may be fatal. The bulbs are easily mistaken for spring onions or garlic.

A poem by Anne Bronte

The Bluebell

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.

Image Credits: Kt bruce .

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