Snowdrops & Snowflakes

Pleated Snowdrop Greater Snowdrop Summer Snowflake Common Snowdrop

What are they?

Snowdrops are surely so familiar to everyone that they barely need describing. The flower has three outer tepals and three inners, with the outers being elongated and opening out like wings, while the inner tepals form a tube and usually have greenish markings both inside and out. With the first flowers opening as early as the first week of January, snowdrops have long been popular with gardeners and are much planted. The closely-related snowflakes are included here and this differ from snowdrops in having all six tepals looking more or less the same and forming regular, bell-shaped flowers without wings.

Where are they found?

Widespread in churchyards, parks and amenity areas with Common Snowdrop also found regularly in damp woodland and along roadsides.

Identification

Flower markings can be rather variable, but the four species in our area are quite readily distinguished by leaf size, shape and colour. It always pays to be aware of hybrids, which tend to look intermediate between the parents.



Common Snowdrop      Galanthus nivalis

Introduced and now a common and very familiar habinger of spring across the region. Frequent in woodland and on roadsides but most plentiful on churchyards where they have spread from original plantings. Flowers January to March. As well as the familiar 'classic' snowdrop flower, a number of cultivated forms may occasionally be found with more, or less green - or even yellow - markings. Most common is a double-flowered form. All varieties have relatively narrow (up to 10mm wide), glaucous leaves that are often slightly turned to one side when mature.

Common Snowdrop Common Snowdrop Common Snowdrop Common Snowdrop
Habit
Flower
Double flower
Leaves


Galanthus x valentinei     

Occasionally arising where its parents (Common and Pleated Snowdrops) occur together, usually in churchyards. Flowers February to March. Leaves intermediate between the parents, being broader than those of Common Snowdrop and having shallow pleats towards the base.

<i>Galanthus x valentinei</i> <i>Galanthus x valentinei</i> <i>Galanthus x valentinei</i> <i>Galanthus x valentinei</i>
Habit
Flower
Leaves
(L to R) Leaves of Common Snowdrop, Galanthus x valentinei, Pleated Snowdrop


Pleated Snowdrop      Galanthus plicatus

Introduced to churchyards and occasionally spreading onto neighbouring land. Flowers February to March. Leaves green with a glaucous central band along the full length; up to 25mm wide with the edges folded to form pleats; tip hooded on the back.

Pleated Snowdrop Pleated Snowdrop Pleated Snowdrop Pleated Snowdrop
Habit
Flower
Leaves
Leaf cross-section


Galanthus x hybridus     

Rarely arising where its parents (Greater and Pleated Snowdrops) occur together, usually in churchyards. Flowers February to March. Leaves intermediate between the parents, having shallow side pleats and a hooded top to the tip.

<i>Galanthus x hybridus</i> <i>Galanthus x hybridus</i> <i>Galanthus x hybridus</i>
Habit
Flower
Leaf tip


Greater Snowdrop      Galanthus elwesii

Introduced to churchyards and amenity areas and occasionally spreading onto neighbouring land. Flowers February to March. Leaves broad (up to 30mm wide), glaucous with a clearly hooded tip on the front at the apex. Flowers variable with the inner tepals either marked with green at the tip only, at the tip and base, or with the two marks variously merged into one larger patch of colour.

Greater Snowdrop Greater Snowdrop Greater Snowdrop Greater Snowdrop
Habit
Flower
Flower
Leaves


Woronow's Snowdrop      Galanthus woronowii

Introduced to churchyards and amenity areas and occasionally spreading onto neighbouring land. Flowers February to March. Leaves broad (up to 30mm wide), fresh, shining green and very different to those of other snowdrops in the region. This species was earlier missidentified as the very similar Galanthus ikariae.

Green Snowdrop Green Snowdrop Green Snowdrop Green Snowdrop
Habit
Habit
Flower
Leaves


Spring Snowflake      Leucojum vernum

A rather rare garden plant, introduced from southern Europe and rarely found in grassy places. Flowers February to March. Leaves similar to those of Common Snowdrop but greener. Flowers broader than those of snowdrop with yellowish green markings at the tepal tips.

Spring Snowflake Spring Snowflake Spring Snowflake Spring Snowflake
Habit
Flower
Flower
Seed capsule


Summer Snowflake      Leucojum aestivum

Although considered probably native in parts of the UK, this species is an introduction and garden escape in our region and is common in churchyards, roadsides and other grassy areas. Flowers March to May. Differs from all other snowflakes and snowdrops by having clusters of two to five flowers in loose clusters on long stems. Clumps with many, long, rich green leaves.

Summer Snowflake Summer Snowflake Summer Snowflake Summer Snowflake
Habit
Flowers
Flower
Leaf tip