Devon bluebells bloom early after mild February weather

The mildest February in a decade has speeded up the spring flowering process in Cornwall after a late bloom in spring 2010 when some flowers were several weeks late

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The South West's famous bluebell crop has started to bloom several weeks earlier than expected.

The National Trust said the early flowers were the result of one of the mildest Februaries in years.

Last year the bluebells were late, but this year the sun's warmth and a lack of frost has speeded up the flowering process in Devon and Cornwall.

The flowers start growing in Devon and Cornwall during January, but the blooms appear later further north in the UK.

"Bluebells are the true heralds of the spring," Ian Wright, gardens adviser at the National Trust in the South West, said.

"They are a key part of our national heritage."

About half the world's population of bluebells can be found in the UK, but the native species is under threat from the Spanish bluebell which is often planted in domestic gardens.

Common bluebells are now a protected species in the UK.

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