Squills

Turkish Squill Alpine Squill Lesser Glory-of-the-snow Forbes's Glory-of-the-snow

What are they?

Eye-catching and cheerful, spring-flowering bulbs. Low plants with strap-like leaves that often form quite dense colonies. The squill and glory-of-the-snow species are quite closely related to bluebells and hyacinths, as can be seen by their flower structure. In the squills, the flower stamens are free and open out, star-like, in the centre of the flower; the glory-of-the-snow species have stamens clustered close together, forming a short tube in the centre of the flower.

Where are they found?

Some species are rather rare, but others are commonly planted in gardens, churchyards and amenity areas, from where they may spread and become established in grassy areas.

Identification

The glory-of-the-snow species were formerly placed in the genus Chionodoxa and can be told from the squills by their stamen arrangement (as detailed above). To identify this group to species, take note of the number of flowers on a stem, leaf width and petal colour and shape.



Alpine Squill      Scilla bifolia

Introduced. Rare as a survivor from original plantings in churchyards. Flowers late March to early April. A relatively small, delicate species with rich, deep blue flowers usually carried 1-5 (occasionally up to 10) on a stalk. Leaves usually two; no bracts at the base of the flower pedicels.

Alpine Squill Alpine Squill Alpine Squill Alpine Squill
Habit
Flower
Flower
bractless pedicel


Siberian Squill      Scilla sibirica

Introduced from Central Asia. Popular as a garden plant and often found as a survivor of original plantings in grassy, urban areas and churchyards, though usually only as isolated plants and not forming colonies. Flowers late March to April. A relatively small, delicate species, differing from other squills most obviously by its nodding flowers, carried 1-2 (occasionally up to 5) on a stalk. Petals become more reflexed with age.

Siberian Squill Siberian Squill Siberian Squill Siberian Squill
Habit
Flower
Flower
Older flower


Turkish Squill      Scilla bithynica

Introduced from Bulgaria/Turkey. Rare in grassy places as an escape or survivor of original plantings; capable of forming extensive, dense colonies. Flowers late March to April. Flower spikes rather open, with individual flowers each on relatively long pedicels. Bracts on flowering stems obvious.

Turkish Squill Turkish Squill Turkish Squill Turkish Squill
Habit
Flower
Flower bracts
Leaf


Pyrenean Squill      Scilla liliohyacinthus

Introduced from SW Europe. Rarely found spreading to form small colonies from original plantings. Flowers late March to April. Compared with other squills, the flower spikes are relatively compact and the leaves noticeably broad.

Pyrenean Squill Pyrenean Squill Pyrenean Squill Pyrenean Squill
Habit
Flowers
Flower
Leaf


Lesser Glory-of-the-snow      Scilla sardensis

Introduced from Turkey. Commonly planted in parks, gardens and similar places and occasionally found spreading from original plantings; often forms showy colonies. Flowers late March to April. Rich, vivid blue flowers that appear somewhat intermediate between the scillas and the other glory-of-the-snow species.

Lesser Glory-of-the-snow Lesser Glory-of-the-snow Lesser Glory-of-the-snow Lesser Glory-of-the-snow
Habit
Habit
Flower
Flower


Forbes's Glory-of-the-snow      Scilla forbesii

Introduced from Turkey. A popular garden plant and frequently seen forming colonies in urban, grassy places and churchyards. Flowers late March to April, with flowers in spikes of from 2 to 15. Larger and more showy than the typical squills, with clearly white-centred flowers (even on the less common, pink forms). The base of the petal tube broadens out noticeably from the flower stalk.

Forbes's Glory-of-the-snow Forbes's Glory-of-the-snow Forbes's Glory-of-the-snow Forbes's Glory-of-the-snow
Habit
Flower
Pink form
Flower tube


Boissier's Glory-of-the-snow      Scilla luciliae

Introduced from Turkey. Less common than the previous species; occasionally found in urban, grassy places and churchyards. Flowers late March to April, with flowers in spikes of from 1 to 3. Larger and more showy than the typical squills, with clearly white-centred flowers. The base of the petal tube broadens out only shallowly from the flower stalk.

Boissier's Glory-of-the-snow Boissier's Glory-of-the-snow Boissier's Glory-of-the-snow Boissier's Glory-of-the-snow
Habit
Habit
Flower
Flower tube


Striped Squill      Puschkinia scilloides

Introduced. Rare as a survivor from original plantings in churchyards. Flowers late March to early April. Very similar to some Scilla species but flowers very pale blue with darker central veins.

Striped Squill Striped Squill Striped Squill Striped Squill
Habit
Habit
Habit
Flower