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Britain's native bluebell flower is under threat from a Spanish invader.
Posted on: 07-05-2009 , 04:: | DY365 Bureau

In late spring bluebells form a carpet of blue and violet in Britain's woodlands.But now botanists say these scenes may soon disappear.A Spanish variety - with more dominant genes - is breeding with the native plants to produce a bigger hybrid with less intensity of colour.Botanists at the Natural History Museum are conducting a survey to find out the extent of hybridisation.

If Spanish bluebells are left to grow wild in a British bluebell wood botantists fear they will replace the native species.And the familiar haze of dark blue will be gone forever.Experts at Britain's Natural History Museum are conducting a survey into the extent of the Spanish invasion.

Fred Rumsey, botanist, Natural History Museum says

"I think increasingly we are going to get a continuous spectrum from the bigger paler blue plants, with the flowers all the way round which we think of as Spanish, through to the nice plants - the woodland darker blue plants -that we know and love. As they hybridise and cross and back cross you're going to get a complete mixing of these characters so you'll see everything all the way through from one end of that spectrum to the other and in some ways that may be a good thing. There's many more genes which are going to be available to the plant to adapt and evolve to meet new situations. But we won't have the lovely glistening purplish blue mono cultures that we currently have."

The results of the survey are due to be released later this year.They will help determine the extent of loss of the British bluebell - but it is unlikely they will stop UK woodlands changing forever




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