9 Different Types Of Bluebell Flowers -Their Characteristics And Uses

The bluebell is a flowering plant in the genus "Hyacinthoides". The specific epithet, "hyacinthoides", refers to its resemblance to the unrelated spring-flowering bulbs of genus Hyacinthus. It is sometimes called the wild hyacinth.

It usually grows in moist shady places such as glens and woods, but also at higher altitudes up to 2500 metres, on grassy areas or along streams with rocky beds. In some parts of England they are only found growing alongside ancient woodland paths where there has been no disturbance for hundreds of years.


The bluebell can grow up to 20 inches high with leaves 6 inches long which have linear shape and pointed tips; it blooms from March until May, produces clusters of sky blue flowers with six petals and grows from rhizomes. The plant has a distinctive sweet scent which attracts bees and butterflies to its flowers; though the flower has no nectar it is still important as a source of pollen.

The colour of the bluebell changes after pollination, from light blue to pink or white. This is the plant's method of self-propagation, to attract insects which will then disperse the seeds.

The plant has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, mycorrhizal fungus and actinomycetes; these organisms break down organic matter in the soil into soluble compounds such as ammonium, phosphates and nitrates, which the plant can absorb.


The bluebell is also used as food by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including brown-tail, Bucculatrix bechsteinella, Coleophora anatipennella, The Engrailed (Inachis io) and The Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui).

Bluebells were used in traditional medicines for treatment of colds, headache and fevers. It was believed that they would drive away witches and evil spirits; this may be due to the fact that bluebell resembles a bell which was thought to chase away spirits.  Bluebell is also one of many species gathered by herbalists for use as a herbal remedy.

The wood of bluebells is useful in making walking sticks, tool handles and smoking pipes because it is so light. The plant has also been used commercially to make jam, chocolates and ice-cream.

Types of bluebell flowers

The wildflower or harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)

The harebell is a perennial with erect stems that grow to 25-40cm tall. It has leaves in tufts, each 20mm long or less, light green to dark red which are lanceolate-ovate and acute at the end. The inflorescence usually contains two or three flowers on pedicels of approximately 10mm long; they contain six small, dark blue to purple or violet-blue petals.

The seeds are black and shiny with a tuft of white hairs; they can be used for jewellery making or as toys. The flowers of this plant bloom before the leaves emerge in early spring (February) at which point it is common to find the stems bare.

The dog-violet (Digitalis purpurea)

The flowers of the dog-violet open in late spring into summer. This plant produces an inflorescence which is usually about 10 cm tall, but can be up to 20cm when it forms a cluster of two or three flowers; each flower has five pointed petals with small notches and contains purple stamens.

This species also contains glycosides which are poisonous and can be used in medicine. It has been used to treat heart conditions such as irregular heartbeat, chest pain, nerve damage after a stroke or accident, liver disease and high blood pressure.

The dog-violet is found in grassy meadows, thickets, hedges and woodland edges. The plant is distributed in European lowlands and Atlantic coasts, especially throughout the west of England.

It is found on a wide variety of soils including: well drained acid humus, thin peat or sandy loam which are poor in nutrients. This plant does best in shaded areas due to its aversion towards direct sunlight.

The Archangel (Lamium galeobdolon)

This species is usually found on the edges of forest, meadows and wetland clearings. It has a creeping rhizome which pushes its long shoots above ground in spring; this plant blooms from May to June producing clusters of small white flowers (2-5mm) with five petals; the flowers are short lived, lasting only a day or two. It can grow up to 1m tall, making it fairly noticeable in open areas and forests.

The leaves are light green with purple veins which give off a pleasant aroma when crushed; they are shaped oval-acute at the ends and measure approximately 15mm wide by 10mm long. 

The plant contains tannins which can be used for the treatment of inflammation, cancer and constipation. There have also been studies into the medicinal properties of this plant to treat leukemia and stabilize blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes.

This species is distributed throughout Europe, except for Sweden; it grows on wet meadows, clearings, damp areas with grasses and mosses which are rich in nutrients.

This species is also known as 'Snake weed' because it is often found on railway embankments and other gritty, waste ground; the purple colour of its vein-like leaves make them a more interesting feature than dark brown nettles or blackthorn bushes which can be found growing in similar locations.

The lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis)

The lily-of-the-valley is a perennial with palmately lobed leaves and fragrant bell shaped, white flowers. The plant's height ranges from 15cm to 2m tall depending on the variety; it grows from a rhizome which is usually found in leaf litter. The stem of the lily-of-the-valley has two or three oval leaves measuring 4cm by 2.5 cm, each containing a main vein that runs from its base to the tip.  

The plant can flower throughout spring with red berries that ripen into white. The seeds have a typical rounded ovoid shape, almost kidney shaped, and contain air pockets within the seed that can be used as a substitute for soap; there is also an alcoholic beverage containing these berries which was made as early as the 17th century. 

However, consumption of this plant may cause vomiting or diarrhea due to the presence of the alkaloid 'convallatoxin' which has been known to cause liver, spleen and kidney damage. This plant is mainly found in valleys, damp meadows and shady woods where it grows on rich humus with a pH of about 6-7.

The bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

The bluebell is a bulbous perennial plant, reaching heights of between 15cm to 30cm tall; the leaves grow from the scaly underground bulbs which are 3-4mm wide and have upturned scales.

The flowers are arranged in clusters with 5 narrow bell shaped petals that can be identified by their characteristic hairy texture – they contain a hollow central 'corona' with a distinct micro (or nose) at the end of each petal. The scent of these flowers attracts insects, especially bumblebees, which collect pollen that is contained within two anthers located above the stamen and identified by their yellow colouring.

This plant usually blooms between mid-March to April and can be found in woods, meadows or after disturbance caused by humans; the presence of this plant is thought to indicate good quality soil. This species contains 8 different sesquiterpene lactones which are used for treatment of colic, stomach-ache, diarrhoea and infections.

Daffodils (Narcissus species)  

Daffodils are a group of flowering plants that form part of the Amaryllis family; there are diverse species within this genus including 'Hyacinth', 'Jack Snipe' and 'Jonquil'. The word daffodil is derived from the Latin term Narcissus; this refers to the flower's likeness to the classical Greek myth of Narcissus.

Daffodils usually bloom between mid-March and the end of May, depending on species; the bulb can produce flowers from 2 years old while leafing occurs in year three. The leaves resemble those of grasses with their long, narrow, parallel veins; the leaves are usually large with a length of 20cm or more and a blade ranging from 2.5-4cm wide.

Daffodils are mainly found in woodland margins as well as meadows, slopes, banks and along hedges; they prefer pH levels between 6-7 but can tolerate up to 7.8 which makes them tolerant to alkaline as well as acid soils. Daffodils prefer compost rich soils of medium to high fertility, with partial shade and protection from windy conditions but are still able to tolerate full sunlight and exposure.

The Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale)

The dandelion is a perennial tap rooted herb that thrives in temperate grasslands; the leaves are simple and are arranged in a basal rosette with between ten to fifty five leaves measuring approximately 3-4cm long.

The flowers can be identified by their unique yellow appearance, which is formed from florets within a hollow green calyx; there is also a fine white powder at the base of each flower used for producing honey.

The leaves at the top of this plant are much shorter measuring only 2-3cm in length; there is also a distinctive white latex sap which can cause skin irritation and soreness if eaten. Dandelions are found in fields, gardens and waste ground; the presence of these plants indicates that there is fertile soil with a high organic content.

The Hybrid Larkspur (Delphinium × belladonna)

Larkspurs are perennial plants within the Ranunculaceae family; hybrids of Delphinium species usually have bell shaped flowers, with long pubescent erect sepals and spurs. The flower's colour varies but is mainly blue or purple ranging from light to dark shades; these are produced from April to July when the plant is in bloom.

The larkspur plant can reach up to 1 metre high and have leaves that are divided into 3-5 leaflets; some plants have lobed leaves with a few smaller leaflets while other species have entire leaves.

The fruit produced by these plants is an achene, which is known as 'bell-shaped' but with the presence of a spur on one side. These are found in gardens, meadows and hedgerows and are common throughout Europe.

The Lupins (Lupinus)  

The species within this genus are perennial plants belonging to the pea family Fabaceae; they have yellow, white or purple flowers with a long style and leathery leaves. The name Lupinus comes from the Latin word 'lupus'; this means wolf but is also used in botany to describe a plant's characteristics of being hairy, rough or prickly.

The seeds produced by this plant have an outer coating with a hard shell that will not germinate if damaged; in order for them to produce roots, they require scarification through mechanical means such as rubbing against abrasive surfaces or soaking in water.

Lupins can grow in most soils as long as they are well drained and can tolerate various pH levels, especially acidic soil.

Lupins prefer a full sun exposure but also tolerate partial shade; the plant will grow from seeds that have been stored for up to five years which indicates their longevity. The yellow flowers produced by this plant attract pollinators such as bumblebees and butterflies.

The leaves of this plant are used for fodder and the flowers are an attractive addition to a patio or garden; some flower varieties can reach up to 90cm high but others only reach 30-50cm depending on the variety.


- How do seedlings germinate for lupin plants?

Lupins require scarification of the seed coat to allow for germination; this is usually done by rubbing the seeds between a pair of fine sandpaper or soaking them in water.

Lupins also prefer a sunny position but will tolerate shade, the seeds will remain viable for up to five years so should still be down if they have been stored.

- What type of environment does a hybrid larkspur prefer to grow in?

Hybrid larkspurs need a sunny or partial shade position but they will tolerate full sun. The soil used for these plants should be fertile with a pH level between 5-8.

The plant has an erect and unbranched stem; some varieties may have lobed leaves while others may have entire ones. Some species of this plant have flowers that are hairless, while other species have hairy sepals and petals.

The larkspur plant produces a long pod which contains many small seeds; the majority of plants within this family produce a flower's head at the centre rather than having them clustered together. This is known as 'inflorescence' and they are most commonly produced in late spring or summer.

The flowers produced by these plants attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hoverflies. The seeds of the larkspur plant are poisonous raw but can be eaten cooked; they are also used in herbal teas made from the leaves.

- What are some of the most common types of bluebell flowers?

The most common types of bluebell flowers are Hyacinthoides non-scripta and Hyacinthoides hispanica; these plants belong to the family Liliaceae.  

Bluebells prefer a full sun exposure but can tolerate partial shade. The species within this genus are perennial flower plants that contain bulbous roots, which means the flower is produced from a bulb. The bulbs and flowers are found in woodlands, meadows or along stream banks where they can be widespread across Europe.  

- Which part of the plant is used for medicinal purposes?

The medicinal parts of the plant include the flowers, leaves and roots. The bluebell is a known cardiac tonic which can effectively treat both physical and mental ailments.


Bluebell flowers are one of the most popular types of flowering plants in North America and Europe. They can be found in many different colors, shapes, sizes and scent levels. If you’re looking for a flower that will add a burst of color to your garden or home and have an aroma that is subtle yet sweet, bluebells may just be what you need.


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