In April and May sheets of pendulous blue flowers carpet the woodland floors, it is one of the natural wonders of the British Isles.
The UK’s bluebell woods are of international importance accounting for 50% of the world population of the flower. Bluebells are one of the many species that serve as an indicator of ancient woods – sites which have been continuously wooded for 400 years or longer. Though essentially woodland plants they often grow on lowland hedge banks where they act as a reminder of former ancient woods.
In the 16th century, starch from the bulbs was used to stiffen neck ruffs and glue was made from the stalks. Today it is illegal to dig up the roots of bluebells, and heavy fines are imposed on anyone found selling them.
In the far distant past, when forests were forbidding places, people believed the bells rang out to summon fairies to their gatherings and any human hearing a bluebell ring would soon die!
Information courtesy of The Woodland Trust.