Thursday, May 10, 2018

some bluebells



Hybrid Bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana). Swindon, February 20th, 2018.



Hybrid Bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana). Swindon, April 20th, 2018.



Hybrid Bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana). Swindon, April 21st, 2018.



Hybrid Bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana). Swindon, April 22nd, 2018.






Hybrid Bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana). Swindon, April 26th, 2018.







Hybrid Bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana). Swindon, April 27th, 2018.



Hybrid Bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana). Swindon, May 2nd, 2018.



Hybrid Bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana). Swindon, May 5th, 2018.



Hybrid Bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana). Swindon, May 6th, 2018.



Hybrid Bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana). Swindon, May 7th, 2018.


Hybrid Bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana). Swindon, May 7th, 2018.



Hybrid Bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana). Swindon, May 9th, 2018.



Pictures of the bluebells outside my door in West Swindon. They look like Spanish Bluebells, with characteristically broad leaves and pale blue bell-shaped flowers, but the pollen is green-creamy rather than blue, so they must be Hybrid Bluebells.


That is, according to this simple tripartite scheme:


Common Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)  The one you find in (usually old) woodland, often in huge quantities. Prefers shade. Narrow deep-blue flowers with reflexed tips, narrow leaves. Pollen cream-coloured. Flowerhead usually drooping to one side.

Spanish Bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica)  Garden introduction. Happy in full sun.  Paler blue, broader, bell-shaped flowers, tips not reflexed, broad leaves. Pollen blue.  Flowerhead usually upright. Less common now in gardens than Hybrid Bluebell.

Hybrid Bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana)  The cross between the above two species. Looks generally similar to Spanish Bluebell but pollen is usually green-creamy.


It sounds straightforward enough, but none of the diagnostic features is entirely reliable. If the parents hybridize so freely, and the hybrid is as fertile as it appears to be, you would expect continuous back-crossing producing a spectrum of forms. Recently the idea has even been floated that Common and Spanish might best be considered different forms of a single species.


http://sppaccounts.bsbi.org/content/hyacinthoides-non-scripta-h-hispanica-h-x-massartiana.html


There's evidently much more to discover about this. There has been well-publicized concern about the risk of diluting "native" Common Bluebell populations, but it's not clear if that's really happening.






Anyway, let's head for the woods.





Common Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), Hagbourne Copse, Swindon, 20th April 2018.



I took these photos in Hagbourne Copse, a fragment of ancient woodland on the edge of Swindon, on 20th April, when the flowering was only just starting, and the ground by no means as overwhelmingly blue as it would later become. The plants were strongly uniform, smallish at this stage, with deep blue flowers and very narrow leaves.



Common Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), Hagbourne Copse, Swindon, 20th April 2018.

Common Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), Hagbourne Copse, Swindon, 20th April 2018.



[My previous visit to Hagbourne Copse was in mid-February: http://michaelpeverett.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/hazel-corylus-avellana.html ]



Pink bluebell in secondary woodland, Swindon, May 10th, 2018


What to make of these, in woodland that is not ancient at all?


The narrow leaves and narrow flowers with reflexed tips would tend to place them as Common Bluebell rather than Hybrid or Spanish. But the high proportion of pink and white individuals (such a contrast with Hagbourne Copse, only a few hundred yards away) suggests that these are some sort of selection intended for gardeners. In any case, they look like garden chuck-outs rather than an established population.


White, pink and blue bluebells in secondary woodland, Swindon, May 10th, 2018



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