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The bluebell

Endymion non-scriptus
also known as Hyacinthoides non-scripta and Scilla non-scripta
a perennial herbaceous monocotyledonous angiosperm!
- typical member of the woodland herb layer

External features

Blubell - picture of plant Several brightly coloured (blue!*) bell-shaped flowers (inflorescence), each hanging down, but held up aloft on a leafless stalk up to 50 cm tall - function: sexual reproduction: after pollination by insects (attracted by colour and scent), fertilisation occurs and seeds are produced and dispersed
[* garden varieties may be pink or white]

Leaves with parallel veins (characteristic of a monocot), easily damaged by trampling
Bulb - a perennating organ (containing stored food to enable survival during winter period, so bluebells will grow again, in same place each year) - also functions as a method of asexual reproduction, as new bulbs grow from buds at base of mature bulbs -but bulbs are not easily dispersed
to absorb water and minerals, and for anchorage

Common, often dominant, in drier woodlands and hedge-banks, rarely in pastures. Prefers light acid soils, up to 650 metres.

Environmental Adaptations

Time of flowering: April, May (June); quite early in season - controlled by combination of abiotic factors: most importantly temperature (rising) and light (length of day - gives reliable "calendar" ) - probably as well as biotic factors (e.g. plant genetic factors covering "trigger" levels)

Growth period: Emergence of leaves in early spring - before growth of leaves of woodland trees which obstruct light. Mostly found under trees, so presumably adapted to tolerate reduced light - trade-off with protection from scorching and drying effects of sun.

Overwintering: Bulb contains stored food (sugars, starch, etc.), produced by photosynthesising leaves during spring and summer. Well before winter, aerial parts (leaves, etc) die down and bulb survives frost, etc. under soil.

Role in ecosystem:

Producer; leaves, etc. eaten by animals esp. snails, slugs, etc. - bulbs eaten by some mammals e.g. mice
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