In April and May parts of the Gunby woodland turn blue with the welcome sight of dainty bluebells.
The official name for bluebells is Hyacinthoides non-scripta. These lovely flowers can especially be found in the hazel copse on the way to St Peter's Church and towards the church behind the fence on the back lawn.
Did you know that around half the world’s population of these iconic wildflowers grow in the UK? The first bluebells are believed to have appeared in Britain after the last Ice Age. Archaeological evidence has shown that Bronze Age people used bluebell glue to attach feathers to, or 'fletch', their arrows.
Our 'Gunbees' rely heavily on the flowers’ nectar in the spring but sometimes they steal it by biting a hole in the bottom of the bell: very cheeky!
The Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) is a non-native garden escapee threatening our native species. The easiest way to tell the difference between native and non-native bluebells is to look at the colour of the pollen. If it is creamy-white then it is native - any other colour such as pale green or blue means it's non-native.
" How the merry bluebell rings to the mosses underneath... "
The native flower stem droops or nods distinctly to one side whereas the non-native’s stem is stiff and upright. Native flowers have a strong, sweet scent whereas non-native are almost odourless.
Bluebells are also called ‘fairy flowers.’ According to an old myth, fairies used bluebells to lure and trap people passing by in the woods – especially children!
Bluebells are poisonous and contain about fifteen biologically active compounds to defend themselves from animals and insect pests. But scientists are now researching how these toxic chemicals could one day help treat cancer.