Hyacinthoides x massartiana   Hybrid Bluebell C DD N x I

Hyancinthoides x massartiana

This plant is the almost definitely the hybrid garden escape (Hyacinthoides hispanica x Hyacinthoides non scripta = Hyacinthoides x massartiana) which is worrying many naturalist journalists. It is fertile and reproduces successfully with new bulbs and with seed. The differences between this and the Spanish parent (Hyacinthoides hispanica) aren't great but the flowers remain bell shaped in the hybrid but eventually become saucer shaped in H. hispanica. The tips of the petals curl back slightly in the hybrid. You see this at the roadside or near gardens and in theory it could take over as our dominant bluebell. But according to the expert botanists who advise in the Plant Crib edited by Rich and Jermy, "true Hyacinthoides hispanica is rarely seen in the wild." However it is recorded for BSBI maps as often as H x massartiana which probably means that even field botanists get these two mixed up.

In the woodland where the shade is quite deep, the native bluebell still seems to hold its own but a bad news story is perhaps the one that sells.

H x massartiana has been recorded in the wild throughout England but records diminish as you go north and there is little in the highlands and in northern Scotland. It is far less common in Ireland where most records are from the south. Perhaps the good news is that in spite of the gloomy predictions our native Bluebell H. non scripta is found throughout the British Isles and Ireland and its distribution still far exceeds that of H. hispanica or the hybrid H x massartiana.

Waste grassland near Pensarn Beach, North Wales 25th April 2005

Added on 1st June 2005, corrected 19th January 2005, updated April 11th 2009, updated 7th April 2010

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