Hyacinthoides non-scripta (bluebell)
Hyacinthoides non-scripta (Image: Peter Gasson)
Hyacinthoides non-scripta (L.) Rothm.
bluebell, wild hyacinth, wood bell, fairy flower, bell bottle
Widespread, protected by legislation and not considered to be under immediate threat (although concerns exist regarding cross-breeding and climate change).
Woodland, hedgerows, shady banks, under bracken on coastal cliffs and uplands.
Ornamental, indicator of ancient woodland, medicinal.
All plant parts contain glycosides and are poisonous. The sap can cause contact dermatitis.
About this species
Hyacinthoides non-scripta has a bulb and nodding heads of blue flowers; it is native to western Europe, where it is found in deciduous woodlands, flowering in late April or early May. A woodland floor covered with flowering bluebells is a stunning sight, and often forms a popular, seasonal tourist attraction.
H. non-scripta was for a long time known as Scilla nutans and then Endymion non-scriptus, and may well be encountered in earlier literature under these names. Bluebells grow best in undisturbed soil and need plenty of light in early spring. Their rich nectar provides food for many butterflies and other insects. Bluebells contain toxic glycosides and humans can be poisoned if the bulbs are mistaken for spring onions and eaten. Cattle, horses and dogs have been reported to suffer digestive problems after eating bluebell leaves.
**April 2016: Bluebells are flowering in swathes across Kew and in particular in the Conservation Area. Find out more about what's in bloom on the Spring page.**
Endymion non-scriptus, Scilla non-scripta, Scilla nutans