3E08 Bluebell Survey | Natural History Museum

Bluebell Survey

Native bluebells in woodland

At a glance

Help us track changes in Britain's bluebells.

Type of activity: Outdoors

Who can take part? Everyone

When? Spring

How long will it take? 30 minutes

Cost: Free

Learn to identify the UK's native and non-native species of bluebell and monitor their flowering times.

Why we are doing the project

We want to build a nationwide picture of when the UK's bluebells are flowering, to investigate whether their flowering patterns are being influenced by the effects of climate change.

Britain’s native bluebell is widespread and a familiar sight in spring, but in some areas the non-native Spanish bluebell has been planted. The two species interbreed freely, creating a hybrid form that may flower at a different time to our native species.

By getting involved in the survey you will be helping scientists discover whether the flowering period of our bluebells is shifting and whether this is in response to climate change or caused by changes in the bluebells themselves. You will also be helping to track the spread of non-native bluebells and monitor the threat they pose to our native species.

How to take part

1. Print out the bluebell recording form PDF (55KB) and find a patch of bluebells.

2. Identify the bluebells, take photos and record your findings on the form.

3. Send your form and photos to the Museum by 30 June 2015. Email bluebells@nhm.ac.uk or post them to:

Bluebell Survey
Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity
The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 5BD

Results so far

The Bluebell Survey launched in 2006. Your records have so far revealed that although large populations of native bluebells exist in the countryside, the bluebells found in urban areas are mostly hybrids, and that these hybrids are spreading further into the countryside. If the hybrids are better able to cope with climate change, they may completely outcompete our native bluebells.

Flowering times fluctuate naturally so many years of data will need to be collected before any firm conclusions can be drawn about whether the flowering times of bluebells are shifting and, if so, why. You can help us by monitoring the same plants every year.

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