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Galanthus nivalis L. Snowdrop

In wet places within Mahon Woods the skunk cabbage has been in flower for over a week. This earliest of bloomers reminds me to check my garden for snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), another late winter plant that often braves the snow. Snowdrops often flower in concert with crocus just as the daffodils send their first leaves through the soil. I notice a few of the diminutive snowdrops huddled beneath hosta leaves near the house. It may be a week or two before they stage a show throughout the garden.

Snowdrops are a perennial grown from bulbs and are native to Europe and southwest Asia. Their six tepals vary in color and size – the outer three pure white and spreading while the inner three are smaller and blushed with green. This tiny nodding flower of the lily family produces a surprising eighteen to thirty-six seeds before the plants disappear in early summer. Look for snowdrops in gardens and along roadsides and open woodlands where they may have escaped from cultivation. Look closely, breathe deeply; spring cannot be far behind.

Contributed by UWGB graduate student Kathy Groves

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Last updated on May 9, 2014