Are bluebells at risk of dying out? 

Are bluebells at risk of dying out?

They're the picture-postcard image of UK springtime, but our beautiful bluebells may be wiped out by climate change, warn experts.

A new study looking at hundreds of thousands of 'citizen science' records of the changing seasons' impact on 22 species of plants and trees shows the bluebells could struggle as the climate changes.

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The report, carried out by the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, suggests that spring plants have an optimum time in which to flower, which gives them the best chance to grow and reproduce, but rising temperatures caused by global warming may see this time shift.

And some plants like bluebells are not flexible enough to keep up with a shift in spring, and could suffer.

The study looked at more than 200,000 records from between 1998 and 2014 from the Woodland Trust's Nature's Calendar, in which members of the public suit sighting of seasonal changes in the natural world, like first flowers and leaves.

According to BT News, first leafing and flowering for all 22 species were sensitive to warmer spring temperatures, and would come into leaf or flower around three to eight days earlier for each 1C increase.

The study, published in the Global Change Biology journal, said seven of the species may be able to keep up with climate change, but that four, bluebells, garlic mustard, sycamore and larch, may struggle.

Speaking to the Metro, Dr Kate Lewthwaite, Woodland Trust citizen science manager, said the study showed how important the Nature's Calendar records were in predicting the effects of the changing climate over time, and suggested more people take part in the scheme.

She said: "The English bluebell is an iconic woodland species so this prediction is a wake-up call for the possible effects of climate change on much loved parts of our natural world."

England's best spots to see bluebells
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England's best spots to see bluebells

Visit Blickling in April or May and discover one of the best places to see bluebells in the country. Follow the winding paths through the Great Wood and pass through swathes of the dainty blueflowers. Late April to early May is usually the best time to go and see the bluebells, which carpet the woodland floor.

The Spring Garden and Lime Walk is one area where former Sissinghurst  owner Harold Nicolson controlled the design and planting, every inch bursting with colour during spring. Don't miss: Bluebell and wildflower walks, 26 April & 1 - 2 May, 1pm – 2.30pm, where you can see the woodland on a guided walk with the ranger team. Price: £12.50 (normal admission fee applies, booking essential). Visit Sissinghurst Castle Garden for more.

This is a horticultural work of art formed through centuries of landscape design, with influences of 'Capability' Brown and Humphry Repton. Four lakes form the heart of the garden, with paths circulating through the glades and wooded areas surrounding them. Running across the bottom of the estate is the River Ouse and flood meadow. During the spring and summer months the meadow is covered in wild flowers, butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies. Don't miss: Bluebell walks, 29 April, 11am – 1pm, 6 May, 2pm – 4pm. Price: Adult £5, Child £2.50 (normal admission fee applies, booking essential)

Stroll down Camellia Walk to see more than10,000 plants in the cyclamen grove, the bluebell meadow and yellow meadow. Take a walk and enjoy a beautiful display of the protected English Bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta on the estate. You can find the largest collection of flowers under the Oaks and Witch hazels next to the Bog Garden.

Set within 14 acres of glorious gardens and woodland, Rufford Old Hall is laid out in similar style to the Victorian and early Edwardian periods. Enjoy a walk among the small woodland awash with a variety of native trees as well as a carpet of bluebells in springtime. The best time to see them is in late April and early May in Beech Walk and the North Woods.

Rich in archaeology and wildlife, you'll travel back in time as you wander around the sixteenth-century garden, one of Europe's most important historic gardens. Get lost in the tranquil and mysterious woodland, where years of mining have left an unnatural, undulating landscape. Stroll along the river and stop for a refreshing cup of tea and slice of home-made cake in the tea-room. Don't miss: Save our native bluebell, 10 May, 11am – 12.30pm, an informative walk and talk with Godolphin's gardener on the current threats to our native bluebell from the Spanish varieties, and walk through the sea of blue in Godolphin's far orchard. Price: Free event (normal admission fee applies).

Bluebells are the undisputed spring highlight at Hardcastle Crags where they carpet the woodland. At their peak, usually in May, they form an almost unearthly blue haze through the woodlands and fill air with their sweet perfume. This wooded landscape is often known as ‘Little Switzerland’ because of the valley sides, pathways and river and in spring the woodland is awash with bluebells.

When you visit Buckland, you follow over 700 years of footsteps; from the Cistercians who built the Abbey and farmed the estate, to seafarers Grenville and Drake who changed the shape of the house and the fate of the country. This spring, discover over 100 ships decorated by visitors as they set sail across the bluebell sea in The Great North Wood. Don't miss: The woodland armada, 2 May - 6 June, 10.30am – 5.30pm​. Price: Free event (normal admission fee applies). Spring walks, 7, 10, 14 May, 1pm – 2.30pm. Discover the emerging bluebell displays, ransoms and many other wild flowers in the Great North Wood. Join the estate ranger for a two mile walk around the estate to see some wonderful spring delights. Price: Free event (normal admission fee applies).

Situated on the edge of the beautiful Surrey Hills and surrounded by charming villages, this peaceful location is just 45 minutes from central London. Hatchlands Park is one of the largest country estates in the county, including ancient woodland and open parkland, with views of the historic house and Surrey countryside. Wix’s Wood is home to carpets of bluebells which will appear in late April and early May. For latest updates on when the bluebells are out visit

A short hop from central London by tube but a world apart lies Osterely. Surrounded by gardens, park and farmland, Osterley is one of the last surviving country estates in London. Take a seat in the deckchairs on the temple lawn and watch the world go by, take the woodland walk and uncover the forgotten boathouse or wander back through the ancient meadow, bursting with wildflowers and butterflies. Don't miss: Bluebell walk, 30 April, 6 May, 2pm – 3.30pm. The bluebells at Osterley Park are true wildflowers, on display in the ancient woodland. They have a delicate scent, intense blue colour and flowers that droop down like a bell along one side of the stem. Join a guided tour of the gardens with the ranger as you take in the carpet of colour; learn about the spring flower and its wider role in the management of the estate.  Price: Adult £6, Child £3 (normal admission fee applies, booking essential)

Lanhydrock is the perfect country house and estate, with the feel of a family home. The estate is well worth exploring, with ancient woodlands and tranquil riverside paths. You can take the bikes out on the off-road cycle trails, with special routes for families and novice riders. This fascinating country estate has gorgeous gardens, including a brilliant collection of spring-flowering magnolias and woodland areas blooming with waves of daffodils and bluebells. Don't miss: Bluebell tour, 2 May, 10am – 1pm: Join the Head Ranger for a stroll through the stunning bluebell woods, followed by lunch in the restaurant at 12pm. Price: £15 (includes lunch, booking essential)

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