Wednesday, 25 February 2015


Snowdrops are still in flower and it's a good time to record them from your local area. The most frequent species naturalised locally is Snowdrop Galanthus nivalis, which can be recognised by its entirely glaucous (blue-green) leaves which are flat and less than 1cm in width. The inner tepals have a green patch at the apex only. This is the species that is so abundant in Old Sulehay Forest and at Orton Woods.

G.nivalis in Old Sulehay Forest

Quite often the double form 'flore pleno' can be found. This is present in Thorpe Wood NR and in many churchyards.

G.nivalis 'Flore Pleno' in Thorpe Wood

There are three other species that may be found occasionally in our area, most frequently in churchyards and cemeteries where they may originally have been planted. All three can be found in St. Botolph's Churchyard at Longthorpe.

The most distinctive perhaps is Woronow's Snowdrop Galanthus woronowii, as it is the only snowdrop that has a clear green leaf with no trace of glaucous colouration. Like G. nivalis, this species only has a green patch at the tip of the inner tepal. This appears to be fully naturalised in Longthorpe Churchyard, and I have also seen much smaller groups in several Lincolnshire churchyards this spring.

G.woronowii well established in Longthorpe Churchyard

Flowers of G.woronowii

Greater Snowdrop Galanthus elwesii has very glaucous leaves, but at least one will be more than 1.5cm wide after flowering, the leaves have their margins rolled when they are young and have a hooded apex. This species can have green patches at either just the apex, or at the base and apex of the inner tepals. I've never seen this species in large numbers, but it is occasionally present at low frequency in populations of G.nivalis.

G.elwesii in Longthorpe Churchyard


The last species is perhaps the rarest, and in some ways can be the trickiest to identify. Pleated Snowdrop Galanthus plicatus has glaucous leaves, but the margins are folded under at least along most of the length, especially when young. Although this sounds a relatively easy character it can be quite tricky to notice. The leaves are also supposed to have a paler central band on the upper side. Like G. elwesii, the inner tepals can be marked with green either just at the tip (subsp. plicatus) or at the apex and base (subsp. byzantinus).

G.plicatus in Longthorpe Churchyard

G.plicatus subsp. plicatus

Do have a closer look at your local snowdrops in the next couple of weeks and see if you can spot some of the less frequent species. Of course, like many plants, they will hybridise, but that's another story...

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