Page last updated at 10:01 GMT, Tuesday, 8 April 2008 11:01 UK

Move to save rare native bluebell

Pic by Central Scotland Forest Trust
The British Bluebell, the Spanish Bluebell and the Harebell

Conservationists are planting thousands of native bluebells to try to halt a dramatic fall in their numbers.

The Central Scotland Forest Trust will plant 35,000 bulbs in 2008 to mark the Alarm Bells for Bluebells campaign.

The once plentiful British Bluebell, which flourishes in mature broadleaf woodlands, is now considered an endangered species.

Their numbers have declined because of changes to land use and the spread of the rampant Spanish bluebell.

The campaign, launched at the Falkirk Wheel, saw more than 10,000 bulbs given away free to the public.

The trust will also plant bulbs across North and South Lanarkshire, East Dunbartonshire, the Forth Valley and West Lothian.

It's very important that Scotland looks after its bluebell population because the UK has over half the global population of the flower
Emilie Wadsworth
CSFT

The Spanish bluebell, which was introduced to British gardens in the 17th century, escaped into the wild and cross-bred with the native variety resulting in a third of Britain's current bluebell population being either Spanish or hybrid.

The strongly scented native bluebell has an intense-coloured flower positioned on top of the plant which always droops down one side of the stem.

Emilie Wadsworth, a heritage officer with CSFT, said: "People are quite surprised when you tell them that the native bluebell is under threat because they may see bluebells around, not realising they are not native.

"It takes five years for a British Bluebell to grow, whereas it only takes a Spanish Bluebell three years.

"It's very important that Scotland looks after its bluebell population because the UK has over half the global population of the flower.




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