English bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) are predominantly found in woodlands, all over the UK. They prefer moist, shady and stable conditions, so woodlands are ideal. 

According to Hatfield’s Herbal, bluebells were traditionally used:

  • As a glue – the bulbs and bases are full of a white slime that was used for glue in (among other things) bookbinding
  • The slime was also used as laundry starch
  • The glue has been used to set feathers upon arrows
  • In Scotland and Devon they were thought to be unlucky and should not be brought into the house
  • Not much used in folk medicine but in Inverness-shire a plaster was made from the roots to aid wound healing

Some estimates suggest that the UK has up to half of the world’s total bluebell population.

Our native bluebell is a darker blue and has a stronger scent than the Spanish bluebell that has escaped into the wild.

Despite their name, bluebells can also be white. If you see pink ones they are probably Spanish.

The non-native Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) was introduced to British gardens over 300 years ago. Now hybridising with English bluebells, their distribution is increasing.

There are lots of bluebells in our new woodland at Rusland, particularly the northern end.

If you see them growing on open ground it might be a sign that the land was once woodland.  You can sometimes see this in relatively new woodlands such as Mikes Wood which is relatively new but there are a few much older trees and you will see woodland species like bluebell and ramsons underneath the canopy of these trees, but not so much around the younger trees.

Have a wander through the bluebell woods at Burnbanks, Haweswater in a video here : https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1954450431351553