Cuckoo’s boots or witches’ thimbles?

Two information boards have been installed around Chalet Wood which advise and inform about the bluebells which will soon burst into flower. Here is the text on the boards:

Wanstead Park: the bluebells of Chalet Wood

For just a few brief weeks each spring, Chalet Wood is transformed by a carpet of bluebells.

Sadly, native bluebells are now under threat. This is partly due to loss of habitat and the uncertainties of climate change.

Bluebells are delicate and easily damaged through trampling which may cause the plant to die. Even when not visible above the ground the bulbs can be damaged due to soil compaction caused by heavy footfall.

Bluebells take a long time to get established and the ideal way to protect them is to conserve the conditions in which they grow and restrict damage to the plants. Please help us protect and conserve this beautiful bluebell wood by keeping to the marked pathways through the wood, and not picking the flowers or walking on the plants. It is against the law to intentionally pick, uproot or destroy bluebells.

Thank you for helping us to look after Epping Forest’s bluebell woods.

Did you know?

The UK is home to almost half the world’s bluebells.

Bluebells are an ancient woodland indicator plant – this means they can often be seen flourishing in rare ancient woodland.

Bluebells are primarily pollinated by bumblebees but are beneficial to many other insects such as hoverflies and butterflies.

All parts of the bluebell plant are toxic to humans, dogs and cattle.
The bluebell has many names: wild hyacinth, wood bell, cuckoo’s boots, witches’ thimbles, lady’s nightcap and most recently “bloobs”.

Bluebells are steeped in folklore and associated with fairy enchantments. It was believed that bells rang out to summon fairy gatherings and any humans who heard a bluebell ring would soon meet a sticky end.

The Spanish bluebell is more vigorous than the native bluebell and can occasionally crossbreed with it to create a hybrid. Recent research has shown that native bluebells produce more fertile seeds so they can outcompete any hybrid plants in woodlands where the ground flora is protected from damage by trampling.

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