Thursday, 3 June 2010

Scottish Bluebells

The bluebells are at their best at the moment - the common bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, that is, not to be confused with the Scottish bluebell which the English would call a harebell, Campanula rotundiflora. As its name suggests, the English bluebell belongs to the hyacinth family.

To add to the English bluebell's problems, a Spanish variety has been invading the country for the last 200 years, and this has hybridised with the native variety. There are various ways to tell the two species apart, but the Spanish one has a more open trumpet and is lighter in colour. A good website describing bluebells is here and a short but informative video here.

In Kilchoan, 2010 hasn't been a vintage year for bluebells but they're still making a fine showing - and they have precious little time in which to do it because they are soon overtaken and smothered by the bracken.

In amongst the bluebells are a small number of white and pinky-white ones - somewhere I read that about one in 10,000 bluebells is white. In one place we found a clump of fourteen white bluebells. They're albinos, and are called Hyacinthoides non-scripta 'Alba'. Alba? Does this mean that white bluebells are Scottish?

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