The Common Snowdrop
, Galanthus nivalis
, is the best-known representative of a small group of Amaryllids, all the species of which have bulbs, linear leaves, and erect flowering stalks, destitute of leaves but bearing at the top a solitary pendulous bell-shaped flower. This species grows 15cm tall, flowering in January or February in the northern temperate zone. The white flower has six petals, the outer three segments being larger and more convex than the inner series. The six anthers open by pores or short slits. The ovary is three-celled, ripening into a three-celled capsule. (Snowdrops should not be confused with their relatives Snowflakes, Leucojum
species; Leucojums are much larger and flower in summer, with all six petals in the flower the same size.)
Propagation is by offsets removed when the plants are at rest, immediately after the leaves have withered; or by seeds sown either when ripe, or in spring.
There are numerous cultivated varieties, different in the size of the flower and the period of flowering; the double form is probably the least attractive.
Other notable species:
- the Crimean snowdrop, G. plicatus, 30 cm tall, flowering January/February, white flowers, with broad leaves folded like a fan
- G. elwesii, a native of the Levant, 23 cm tall, Flowering January/February, with large flowers, the three inner segments of which have a much larger and more conspicuous green blotch than the more common kinds. All the species are very graceful, and as universal favourites amply repay cultivation.
original text taken from a 1910 gardening encyclopedia, and an 1887 volume of a famous encyclopedia
Minor copyediting changes made
The snowdrop is the flower for January.