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Due to the latest guidance from the NI Executive, our museums will remain closed until further notice. We look forward to welcoming visitors back to our museums when it is safe to do so and we would like to thank the public for their continued support and patience.

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Native Bluebell and Spanish Bluebell – how can you tell them part?

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Across the country we can now see spectacular displays of carpets of bluebells. However, along with our native Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) we also have the introduced Spanish Bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica). The Spanish Bluebell was introduced as a garden plant by the Victorians but is now cross-breeding with our native Bluebell to produce fertile hybrids (Hyacinthoides x massarttiana) with a mix of characteristics. There is growing concern that the Spanish Bluebell could dilute the gene pool of our native Bluebell or perhaps even replace it.

Characteristics of our native Bluebell

  • Deep violet-blue flowers (but occasionally white or pink)
  • Flower stems have a distinctive droop
  • Flowers are on one side of stem
  • Narrow bell-shaped flower, petal tips curl back
  • Sweetly scented
  • Creamy white pollen

Characteristics of the Spanish Bluebell

  • Chalky-blue flowers
  • Upright stems
  • Tapering bell-shaped flowers with flared tips
  • Blue pollen
  • No scent
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