Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Bluebell Wood

Along the Glennel

* The Bluebell is a perennial herb that grows in spring from bulbs that stay in the soil over winter. The shoots emerge from early January, before trees’ leaves block a large proportion of the available sunlight. The bluebell sets seeds profusely and also multiplies by offshoots from its bulbs. As a result it can be a dominant species that carpets the woodland floor early in the spring. The drooping, blue bell shaped flowers, which give the plant its most common name, appear from April to June. Other local names, which mainly refer to the flowers, include Auld Man’s Bell, Calverkeys, Jacinth, Wilde Hyacint and Wood Bells. The flowers may be violet-blue, white or even pink on rare occasions.

Medicinal uses of the bulb include diuretic and styptic properties. Because the bulbs contain toxic substances, they were a popular source of glue for bookbinding – the toxins discouraged attack by silverfish. The toxicity may be the origin of the superstitious belief that anyone who wanders into a ring of bluebells will fall under fairy enchantment and soon after die. Other tales from a time when forests where forbidding places, people believed that bells rang out to summon fairies to their gatherings, unfortunately any human who heard a bluebell ring would soon die. However, not all the Bluebell’s folklore is quite so gloomy. Some believed that by wearing a wreath made of the flowers, the wearer would be compelled to speak only truth. Others believed that if you could turn one of the flowers inside out without tearing it, you would eventually win the one you love.

Kirkmahoe Bluebells
script from
Photos from Kirkmahoe

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