Nothing quite captivates the eye as much as an azure, woodland carpet of bluebells. The Bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, is rarely found anywhere other than northern Europe; in fact the UK has around 30% of the world's bluebell population.
The Common Bluebell is under threat from the loss of its habitat and the encroaching bluebell variety, Spanish Bluebell, Hyacinthiodes hispanica. The native Bluebell has fragrant flowers on one side of the stem. The Spanish Bluebell has unscented flowers growing on all sides of the stem. Both bluebells will readily hybridise to create the rapidly spreading Hyacinthoides hispanica x non-scripta.
Other common names for the flowers, include Auld Man’s Bell, Calverkeys, Jacinth, Wilde Hyacinth and Wood Bells.
The plant grows from a bulb which contains toxic substances. This toxicity may have led to the superstitious belief that whoever walks into a ring of bluebells will fall under fairy enchantment and soon after die.
In the past when forests where forbidding places, people believed that the bluebells would ring to summon the fairies to their gatherings and any human who heard a bluebell ring would soon die.
A further magical attribute attached to the plant was the notion that wearing a wreath of Bluebells would compel its wearer to speak the truth.