Synonyms: Bluebell. Scilla nutans. Nodding Squill. Scilla nonscriptus. Agraphis nutans. Calverkeys. Culverkeys. Auld Man’s Bell. Ring-o’-Bells. Jacinth. Wood Bells. Agraphis nutans, Link.
Common Names :Wild Hyacinth, common bluebell or simply bluebell
Wild Hyacinth is a perennial plant that grows from a bulb. It produces 3–6 linear leaves, all growing from the base of the plant, and each 7–16 millimetres (0.28–0.63 in) wide. An inflorescence of 5–12 (exceptionally 3–32) flowers is borne on a stem up to 500 mm (20 in) tall, which droops towards the tip; the flowers are arranged in a 1-sided nodding raceme. Each flower is 14–20 mm (0.55–0.79 in) long, with two bracts at the base, and the six tepals are strongly recurved at their tips. The tepals are violet–blue. The three stamens in the outer whorl are fused to the perianth for more than 75% of their length, and bear cream-coloured pollen. The flowers are strongly and sweetly scented. The seeds are black, and germinate on the soil surface
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The Wild Hyacinth is in flower from early in April till the end of May, and being a perennial and spreading rapidly, is found year after year in the same spot, forming a mass of rich colour in the woods where it grows. The long leaves remain above ground until late in the autumn.
The bulbs produce contractile roots; when these roots contract, they draw the bulbs down into deeper layers of the soil where there is greater moisture, reaching depths of 10–12 cm (3.9–4.7 in). This may explain the absence of H. non-scripta from thin soils over chalk in South East England, since the bulbs are unable to penetrate into sufficiently deep soils.
Part Used: Root bulb, dried and powdered.
Constituents: The bulbs contain inulin, but are characterized by the absence of starch (which in many other monoeotyledons is found in company with inulin). Even if fed on cane-sugar, Bluebell bulbs will not form starch. They also contain a very large quantity of mucilage.
Though little used in modern medicine, the bulb has diuretic and styptic properties.
Dried and powdered it has been used as a styptic for leucorrhoea; ‘There is hardly a more powerful remedy,’ wrote Sir John Hill (1716-75), warning at the same time that the dose should not exceed 3 grains. He also informs us that a decoction of the bulb operates by urine.
Tennyson speaks of Bluebell juice being used to cure snake-bite.
The flowers have a slight, starch-like scent, but no medicinal uses have been ascribed to them.
The bulbs are poisonous in the fresh state. The viscid juice so abundantly contained in them and existing in every part of the plant has been used as a substitute for starch, and in the days when stiff ruffs were worn was much in request. From its gummy character, it was also employed as bookbinders’ gum.
Wild Hyacinth or Bluebells are widely planted as garden plants, either among trees or in herbaceous borders. They flower at the same time as hyacinths, Narcissus and some tulips. Their ability to reproduce vegetatively using runners, however, means that they can spread rapidly, and may need to be controlled as weeds.
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