Bluebell folklore and traditions

Bluebell flower head

With the bluebell one of the most iconic flowers of Britain, it is no surprise that folklore surrounds them. Although for such a dainty flower, much of the folklore is quite gloomy.

  1. If you wear a garland of bluebells, you will be compelled to tell the truth

  2. When a bluebells bell rings, it calls all the fairies to a gathering, but if a human hears the bell, they will be visited by a malicious fairy and die soon after.

  3. Bluebell woods are enchanted. Fairies used them to lure and trap people in their nether world.

  4. If you turn one of the flowers inside out without tearing it, you will eventually win the one you love.

  5. If a child picks a bluebell in a bluebell wood, they will never be seen again.

  6. In the language of flowers, the bluebell symbolises constancy, humility and gratitude.

Bluebells in the woods

Leaving folklore aside, let's not forget that we owe the British bluebell much more than myth and sentiment, as it's had practical uses throughout the ages.

 

  1. During Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, the big ruff collars were stiffened using starch made from the crushed bulbs of bluebells.

  2. During the Bronze Age, feathers were stuck on arrows using the sticky sap from bluebells.

  3. The gummy sap was also used as glue for bookbinding. As the sap is so toxic, it stopped certain insects from attacking the binding.

  4. Herbalists used to use bluebells to help prevent nightmares.

  5. 13th century monks used them to treat snakebites and lepers – very much a kill or cure remedy given that bluebells are poisonous.

  6. Scientists are researching how the toxic chemicals in bluebells could one day help treat cancer.