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

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