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The annual lecture of Bluebells follows!
Bluebells are easy to tell apart if one looks at the detail. The classic English Bluebell, H. non-scripta, has the tip of the flowering spike slightly drooping over and the flowers all on one side of the spike. The sides of the flower tube are parallel for most of it's length with the tips strongly reflexed (ie turned back on themselves) with cream anthers. The leaves are narrow (7-15mm).
The Spanish Bluebell, H. hispanica has a flower spike which points straight up with the flowers all round it. The flowers are bell-shaped flower, becoming saucer shaped with age, with absolutely no curving of the tips, anthers are the same colour as the flower (which may be variable). Leaves broad (10-35mm).
The hybrid, H. x massartiana has the general spike shape and flowers are bell shaped, but with tips curved back to some degree, not as much as in H. hon-scripta. Anthers normally blue, but sometimes cream (no help there then). Leaves broad (10-30mm). It is very fertile so back-crossing is common, giving a wide array of variation from the two extremes of the species.
The plant shown looks like good H. hispanica to me.
BSBI VC Recorder
According to people who have seen it in Spain, there is nothing like H. hispanica in the UK, only hybrids. Work is currently in progress investigating but it is a complicated situation. (As usual!).
Yes I've heard that too! But then maybe they're not looking at H. hispanica either! So for the moment I'm advising my recorders to use the descriptions in the standard floras until someone publishes something better, on the "we can always lump them together later if necessary, but we can't split them up if we record everything as the hybrid" basis.
I would agree that H. hispanica (indeed, if that is what it was) as I have seen it in Spain looked nothing like any bluebell I have seen in Britain.
However, with regard to the turning back of the tepals character, I wonder if the flowers are mature enough in this specimen to show us what their final shape will be.
The flowers are young, but they do not look to me as if they will take on the shap of true H. hispanica.
Lat/Lng: 50.1728, -5.1178
OS grid ref: SW774349