Mutant bluebell is one in a million, says expert

By Adrian Darbyshire in Environment

This mutant bluebell is a real one in a million.

It was found by our photographer John Maddrell lurking among the carpet of spring blooms in the lawn of his home at Ballahane, Port St Mary.

John said: ’I was walking up the drive when I noticed this rather strange looking bluebell. In fact, I didn’t think it was a bluebell to start with as it looked like a plant that had seeded itself. On closer inspection I found it was this bluebell mutant.’

Andree Dubbeldam, wildflower expert with the Manx Wildflower Trust, confirmed that it was a rare mutation.

He told the Manx Independent: ’I’m not sure from the look of it what species or hybrid it is, but its funny look is the result of a mutation.

’I have seen it once or twice in bluebells and orchids, but it’s still a bit of a one in a million.’

Native British bluebells, which are a feature of Manx glens and English woods, are under threat from their invasive Spanish relative. The upstart Spanish variety was introduced by Victorians as a garden plant but has been growing wild and hybridising with the British species. Most of the bluebells in John’s garden are of the Spanish type but he has native ones too, and hybrids of the two.

The true British bluebell has sweet scent, narrow bell-shaped flowers on a distictive drooping stem like a shepherd’s crook while the Spanish interloper has no smell, an upright stem and conical bell-shaped blooms.

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