Wednesday, 12 May 2010

If you go down to the woods today...

The New Forest National Park Authority's Senior Tree Officer Bryan Wilson is encouraging everyone to keep an eye out for bluebells.

Bryan said: 'For anyone who needs an excuse to get out and about into the woods at this time of year, why not use it as a reason to join the Natural History Museum Bluebell hunt?

'I would recommend a visit to Roydon Woods nature reserve near Brockenhurst - run by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust - where I took the photo.'

Here's some more information about Bluebells from Bryan (below) and don't forget to record your findings!

Bluebell - (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

Native Bluebells are common throughout the New Forest and most of the UK, but are rarely found in Europe and do not grow naturally anywhere else in the world. Bluebells will flower throughout April and May but their numbers and exact flowering time in any one site will vary from year to year.

The glossy green leaves appear in March and carpet the ground. The flower stalks begin to appear in April and eventually stand about 30cm tall with bell shaped flowers concentrated near the top.

Native Bluebells can hybridise readily with a Spanish variety (H. hispanica) which has been imported over the years by gardeners. Native Bluebell flowers are a more intense blue and have more droopy ‘bells’ than the Spanish or hybrid varieties but the differences can be difficult to spot unless you are experienced at identification comparisons.

There is concern that native Bluebells could be lost altogether as a result of hybridisation with the Spanish variety although probably a more real threat is the loss of woodlands where they grow.

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