When Hyacinthus died and Apollo’s tears fell on the plant that he turned into, the tears wrote “Alas!” on the petals of the flowers. Naturally all this happened in Greek and the Greeks have a word for it. Which saying loosely translates as, English has pinched more than a few words from Greek. The Bluebell belongs to the same family as the Hyacinth but no one has ever suspected it of being involved in the sorry saga of Hyacinthus and Apollo. Its Latin name is ‘Hyacinthus nonscriptus’ roughly translated as ‘a hyacinth with no writing on’ so, you’ll be glad to know that, as far as all that carry on with the discus goes, bluebells are in the clear.
They like to grow in woodland and the deeper the leaf mould the better. Their roots have an interesting trick of contracting and drawing the bulb deeper into the ground. This means that they don’t do well in thin soils. They spread by putting out suckers so, if they are left to their own devices, they can easily become a large clump. This is how we get the ‘Bluebell Woods‘ all over Britain. There are estimates that put as high as thirty or forty percent, the proportion of the worlds bluebells living in our bluebell woods.
The bulbs are poisonous but the sap is really good for gluing feathers in arrows. Oh, and some bluebells are white.