For those of us lucky enough to live within a walk of long-established woodland, we can still enjoy bluebells despite the lockdown. Beckenham Place Park is one such area, although get ready to exercise emergency social distancing manoeuvres as oblivious joggers jag around, their ears full of choons. Oxleas Woods off Shooters Hill is another and I daresay Sydenham Hill Woods have their share. After that I think we’re talking Petts Wood and the adjoining Hawkwood and Little Heath Wood and Selsdon Wood south-west of Croydon. Of course, there are brilliant bluebells at Downe, Meenfield Wood, Ide Hill, One Tree Hill, Hosey Common and in woods east of Shoreham on this website’s walks, but we can’t get there at the moment and the flowers don’t last much beyond the end of the month so I reckon this year is kaput for the cobalt carpet. Anyway, some bluebell factoids gleaned from an excellent article with far more detail called Bloomageddon: seven clever ways bluebells win the woodland turf war at The Conversation website.
- They are uniquely adapted to suited the multispecies ancient woodlands of the UK
- Low temperatures trigger their growth. Bluebell seeds germinate when the temperature drops below 10°C.
- Bluebells predominantly convert sunlight into fructose allowing them to photosynthesise at low temperatures.
- They are supreme competitors with other plants, allowing them to carpet woodland floors. But they get help in the form of mycorrhiza, a symbiotic fungi.
- Almost half the world’s bluebells are found in the UK, they’re relatively rare in the rest of the world.
But please be careful never to tread on any; it takes bluebells years to recover from foot damage.