MARTYN F. CHILLMAID / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARTYN F. CHILLMAID / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scriptus), is probably the easiest spring flower to recognize. Its range is Western Europe as far south as Spain, also home to the mountain bluebell (H. hispanica) introduced into UK gardens as early as 1683. One prefers woodland the other open spaces. While hispanica is identifiably a bluebell there are a number of differences. It will hybridise with non-scriptus and the result, H. x massartiana, is fertile and will also hybridise with both its parents. This produces a spectrum of variations that make the identification of a true non-scripta very hard. The old definition of a species is that it must be different enough not to produce fertile offspring. So, while it would be unfortunate for the pure non-scripta to disappear - natural hybrids occur in Spain so it is only subspecifically distinct. DNA analysis may solve the problem of which is the subspecies.
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