Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)

This,--the Agraphis mutans,--of the Lily tribe--is so abundant in

English woods and pastures, whilst so widely known, and popular

with young and old, as to need no description. Hyacinth petals

are marked in general with dark spots, resembling in their

arrangement the Greek word AI, alas! because a youth, beloved by

Apollo, and killed by an ill-wind, was changed into this flower.

But the wild Hyacinth bears no such char
cter on its petals, and is

therefore called non-scriptus. The graceful curl of the petals, not

their dark violet colour, has suggested to the poets hyacinthine


In Walton's Angler the Bluebell is mentioned as Culverkeys, the

same as Calverkeys in Wiltshire. No particular medicinal uses

have attached themselves to the wild Hyacinth flower as a herbal

simple. The root is round, and was formerly prized for its

abundant clammy juice given out when bruised, and employed as

starch. Miss Pratt refers to this as poisonous; and our Poet

Laureate teaches:--

In the month when earth and sky are one,

To squeeze the blue bell 'gainst the adder's bite.

When dried and powdered, the root as a styptic is of special virtue

to cure the whites of women: in doses of not more than three

grains at a time. There is [58] hardly, says Sir John Hill, a more

powerful remedy. Tennyson has termed the woodland abundance

of Hyacinths in full spring time as The heavens upbreaking

through the earth. On the day of St. George, the Patron Saint of

England, these wild hyacinths tinge the meadows and pastures

with their deep blue colour--an emblem of the ocean empire, over

which England assumes the rule.

But the chief charms of the Bluebell are its beauty and early

appearance. Now is the winter past; the rain is over and gone; the

flowers appear on the earth; the time for the singing of birds is

come; and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land.

This earth is one great temple, made

For worship everywhere;

The bells are flowers in sun and shade

Which ring the heart to prayer.

The city bell takes seven days

To reach the townsman's ear;

But he who kneels in Nature's ways.

Has Sabbath all the year.

The Hairbell (Campanula rotundifolia) is the Bluebell of

Scotland; and nothing rouses a Scot to anger more surely than to

exhibit the wild Hyacinth as the true Bluebell.