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Snowdrop

(Galanthus nivalis)

Snowdrops © Laurie Campbell

Snowdrops © Laurie Campbell


"The grass is spangled with thy silver drops."

- Charlotte Turner Smith (1749-1806), "The Snowdrop"


Description

This wildflower's bobbing white blooms are a much-anticipated sight in the winter months. Snowdrops are able to survive the cold winter months and flower so early, because they grow from bulbs. 

How to spot it

Its slim leaves and bobbing white petals are quite iconic at a time of year when little else flowers.

Where it grows

Areas with damp soil, such as moist woodland and riverbanks.

Best time to see

January to March, when it flowers.

Cultural info

In the Language of Flowers it symbolises chastity, consolation, death, friendship in adversity, hope and purity

How's it doing?

Although formally considered "native", snowdrops are actually recent arrivals. It's first known cultivation was in 1597 and was first recorded in the wild in 1778. It is widely naturalised with little change thought to be occurring.

3 things you might not know

  • Snowdrops do produce seeds provided there are pollinators around. Early emerging queen bumblebees will help spread them if the weather is warm and dry enough.
  • Christians dedicate this wildflower to the Virgin Mary. On Candlemas Day (2nd February) snowdrops were once scattered in place of her image on the altar. 
  • Avid collectors of snowdrops are known as galanthophiles.

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