Museum calls on public to map Britain's bluebells: www.nhm.ac.uk/bluebells
The Natural History Museum is calling on everyone to search for, identify and record bluebells in their local area to find out how climate change and hybrids are affecting Britain's favourite wildflower.
The web-based survey, called Bluebells: Exploring British Wildlife, provides an online identification guide and simple forms to record sightings. The recordings will be used to map where bluebells grow in the UK, and when they flower. It will also help us understand the evolution and relationship of Britain's two bluebell species, and the level of hybridisation between them.
'Changing climate conditions and hybridisation may change the British bluebell as we know it,' said Mark Spencer, curator of the British plant collection at the Natural History Museum. 'By taking a closer look at this well-loved flower, everyone can help us build a clearer picture of the bluebell in Britain today.'
Bluebells epitomise British springtime, bursting into colour in April, May and June in woodlands, hedgerows and other shady places. The Spanish bluebell is widely cultivated and thrives in many urban settings such as gardens and parks. Early growth and flowering gives bluebells a head start over later developing plants, but warmer winters may mean they are losing their advantage as other plants start growing earlier.
In addition, a recent survey by wild plant conservation charity Plantlife showed that our native species is hybridising with cultivated bluebells. Hybridisation can alter species genetic make up and make it harder for them to survive. There are two species of bluebell in Britain - the familiar native bluebell or wild hyacinth (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), the cultivated Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica ), plus the hybrid, originating from the native and Spanish varieties.
If you want to help build this detailed profile of our wildlife, then join the survey and play your part. Everybody is welcome to make a difference. For more information, go to www.nhm.ac.uk/bluebells.
Notes for editors
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