Photo by: Gordon Dickins

Common Bluebell

Gordon Dickins

Every spring, without fail, the Wrekin Forest delivers some of the finest displays of early flowering plants to be seen anywhere in Shropshire. Covering vast swathes of the woodland floor and forming fragrant glades that attract pollinating insects deep into the heart of the forest, the Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) is principal among them. Commonplace as it might seem, it is now a plant species of conservation concern and the days when we could take its carpet-forming presence for granted appear to be well behind us. Alongside the plundering of bulbs for unscrupulous financial game, one of the principal causes of this newly parlous status is its more vigorous Spanish counterpart, a scentless bounder with paler trumpet-shaped flowers! Telling the two apart, in theory, should not present too bigger problem because the flowers of native Bluebells have several unique characteristics the interloper does not possess (as a glance at the ‘quick ID’ section below will confirm). Caution, however, is advisable because the two are capable of hybridising.

Quick ID: nodding bell-like flowers that possess rolled-up tips and creamy white anthers, arranged on one side of the stem only.

When and Where: take your pick! A perennial favourite of shady woodland glades across the forest. For a particularly splendid, and lightly trafficked, vista take a walk through the woodlands between the Rifle Range and the Ercall Pools.

Links: Limekiln Wood Spring Flowers

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