Species Action Plan
Badger SAP Green hairstreak SAP

Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

Associated Species Action Plans


Associated Habitat action plans



1Current Status

Bluebell is a perennial herb belonging to the Lily family and is found in shaded or semi-shaded conditions frequently carpeting the woodland floor in the spring.

Bluebell is an 'Atlantic' species not reaching further east than western Germany and absent from Scandinavia. Widely distributed and common throughout the United Kingdom, bluebell is of international importance as 25-49% of the world population is found in the UK. It is intolerant of trampling, heavy grazing, water logging, deep shade and competing with vigorous grasses.

In Birmingham and the Black Country bluebell is often common on sandy lenses or light acid soils in woods and bracken-dominated scrub and is also found in other habitats - hedgerows, verges, well drained grassland. Of the 516 records of bluebell in the EcoRecord database that contain associated habitat information, 65% are found in woodland, with 16% being recorded from hedgerows. Other habitats supporting bluebell are scrub (6%), grassland (8%) and tall herbs (2%). A recent study has found that bluebell is not a reliable indicator of ancient woodland in this area, being found as frequently in secondary woodland (EcoRecord). Bluebells are found in 83% of ancient woodland and associated habitats and 81% of secondary woodland and associated habitats (EcoRecord).

The native bluebell can be confused with the Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) which is widely planted. The two species may hybridise where the parent species grow together (Hyacinthoides hispanica x non-scripta) (see Appendix for identification details).

2Current factors affecting species

3Current Action

3.1 Legal status

Bluebells are protected through general provisions in the Wildlife and Countryside 1981 which make it illegal to intentionally uproot a wild plant. The same Act does not list bluebell amongst the plants receiving the highest level of protection but does makes it illegal to sell or offer bluebells for sale.

3.2 Management, research and guidance

Currently there are no specific projects relating to bluebell being carried out in this area.

Birmingham and Black Country Flora Project / Flora 2000 Project will provide information on the status and distribution of flora, including bluebell.

4Action Plan objectives and targets

  1. Maintain existing populations as components of woodland and derived habitats.
  1. Extend associated habitats to improve the status and widen distribution.
  1. Raise awareness of the international importance of bluebells.
  1. Establish the impact of Spanish bluebell on populations of native bluebell.
By 2004

5Proposed Actions

ACTION Potential
YEARS Meets Objective No.
Lead Partner 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2011
5.1 Policy and legislation None proposed
5.2 Site safeguard and management
Review the status of habitat areas containing extensive populations of bluebell and consider the allocation of SINC/SLINC status EN WT, LA   1
Extend the area of existing woodland 'fragments' so that they have a long term future as viable and functioning ecosystems LA NUFU, WT, EN, CC           2
5.3 Species management and protection
Consider removal of Spanish bluebell at selected sites where both species occur. LA WT, EN, LO       1
Ensure action for bluebell management is considered in all woodland, hedgerow and garden management plans. Undertake management to minimise trampling where this is a problem (e.g. deterrence with brushwood, defining desire lines with branches) LA WT, BTCV, EN, LO 1
5.4 Advisory
Publicise international importance of bluebells WT LA, EN, NUFU       3
Ensure that surveyors are briefed on the characteristics of native and Spanish bluebell to ensure accurate records WT LA, EN         4
Publicise inappropriate/illegal actions that cause damage to bluebell e.g. Trampling causes most damage to bluebells - Bluebells should not be dug up LA, WT EN       1,3
5.5 Future research and monitoring
Monitor status of native and Spanish bluebell at selected sites to determine long-term relationship WT ER, LA, EN         4
Select habitats containing both species and investigate the associated abiotic factors and management practices ALL ALL   4
Undertake a monitoring programme to establish the population sizes of bluebell in selected areas ALL ALL       1
5.6 Communications and publicity
Exchange information on the ecology of bluebell within UK and within Europe EN LA, WT, ER        
Ensure knowledge regarding threats to bluebell populations (habitat loss, trampling, removal, etc.) is publicised ALL ALL           1,2
Encourage garden centres and nurseries to grow and supply native bluebells ALL ALL   2
Encourage the planting of bluebell in the creation of new woodland areas NUFU ALL 2
5.7 Links to other action plans
Woodland, hedgerow                    


This Biodiversity Action Plan will be implemented over 10 years with a first review after 5 years. A group will be set up to co-ordinate implementation and to report to the Biodiversity Steering Group. This group will meet at a minimum on a yearly basis.

Review will be carried out in conjunction with related Habitat and Species Action Plans as appropriate.

Review will consist of measuring achievement of targets. The group will, with the support of the Steering Group, develop and implement appropriate monitoring methods which will inform the review process.

The Action Plan will be revised and updated in the light of review results and any relevant changes in circumstances and/or additional information which becomes available during the review period.

In line with national guidance, the Steering Group will report to the UK Steering Group.


Hyacinthoides non-scripta)
Spanish Bluebell
Hyacinthoides hispanicus)
Raceme drooping at tip Raceme erect
Raceme unilateral Raceme not-unilateral
Perianth segments violet blue, ±parallel below Perianth segments paler, spreading like a Campanula
Anthers cream Anthers blue
Filaments outer inserted about middle of perianth, inner lower Filaments all inserted about middle of perianth
Leaves narrower, 7-15 mm Leaves broader, 10-35 mm
Badger SAP Green hairstreak SAP

Biodiversity Action Plan for Birmingham and the Black Country © 2000

Printing of this publication for educational purposes is permitted, provided that copies are not made or distributed for commercial gain, and the title of the publication and its date appear. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires specific permission from the Steering Group.