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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 April 2007, 06:58 GMT 07:58 UK
Gardeners urged to repel boarders
Droopy and blue, the under threat native
Gardeners in Northern Ireland are being urged to repel boarders, or borders rather, with a hybrid variety of bluebell causing concern to environmentalists.

Patrick Creg from the Woodland Trust said the native British/Irish variety of bluebell is under threat from a hybrid, derived from the native flower and a Spanish variant.

He said that the first bluebells from Spain were introduced to Ireland in the 1600s.

The fashion then was for collection and growing foreign species so the Spanish invaders going native was not seen as a problem.

However, times change and the presence of the alien species presents problems to those who want to maintain the integrity of native woodland.

"Unfortunately over the years these have started to hybridise with our own native bluebell, which is much better in terms of the woodland habitat of Northern Ireland and are a threat as such to our native bluebell," he said.

The Spanish variant and the hybrid are more robust than the native, they do not droop as much and have a more insipid colour with pink and white hues.

While the two species will co-exist, eventually they hybridise and the native with its rich blue is displaced.

Mr Creg said that they were not opposed to people having the foreign strain in their gardens, but not when they were near a native woodland.

However, they are stopping short of asking woodland wanderers to rip out any examples of foreign bluebells they come across.

"We're asking people to be very, very conscious that when they go to a garden centre and they're buying bluebells to ascertain the actual provenance of those so they are not actually buying something that has been imported," he said.

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