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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Alternative Signs of Spring 3

Stoke Woods over the weekend, and a traditional spring woodland floral scene, bluebells, wood anemone, violets, wild garlic fading, first dog's mercury and yellow archangel appearing.

But instead of a sign of spring - what about a smell of spring?
Bluebell haze all around in my brain

Stood on a particular path in a sweet spot, with the prevailing westerly wind pushing up the slope towards us, we were bathed in the sweet fragrance from the bluebell carpet, in glorious smell-o-vision. No wonder it attracts bees and butterflies from afar.

Bluebell woods are distinctive to the UK, and there are a few questions about that. Is it because there are no wild boar (or at least not widespread .. .yet?!). There have been some studies and assessments of this point (link here and here). There is also hybridisation with the introduced garden Spanish bluebell to look out for: to tell them apart, the garden one is chunkier and grows in a more upright, sprawling habit, whereas the native one is more slender and delicate, generally with the flowers all in a row and leaning one way. Some field guides say that the native bluebell has blue pollen, whereas this is white in the garden variety, but a stamen with all its pollen discharged will also be white. The native bluebell has a much stronger scent, as we found out today. 

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