Plant of the Month – March 1018

Are Spring Snowflakes the new Snowdrop craze?

from Paddy Parmee

I’ve been in love with Leucojums – or Spring Snowflakes – for many years, and we are lucky they enjoy our damp, acid-to-neutral soil, best planted in shade to keep off the dreaded Narcissus fly! Spring Snowflakes are becoming increasingly popular, with many new varieties worth looking out, and many snowdrop growers sell them.

Leucojums are in the family Amaryllidaceae (as are Galanthus).

The Spring snowflake is a popularly cultivated bulb, with delicate white flowers in spring. It was described as Leucojum vernum  in 1753 by the renowned Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus. The scientific name means ‘spring white violet’ (Leucojum means ‘white violet’ and vernum means spring).  L. vernum is a widely cultivated, hardy plant, notable as a good early source of nectar and pollen for bees.

Although Snowflakes and Snowdrops belong to the same family, they have clear differentiating features. While Snowflakes have six equal tepals (petals and sepals that are similar to each other), in Snowdrops the three inner tepals are shorter and broader then the three outer tepals.

Here are a few from our garden.

This Leucojum wagneri has the yellower spots typical of var. carpathicum, and is double headed.

Leucojum wagneri

Leucojum wagneri

 

Leucojum vernum var carpathicum growing in the garden.

Leucojum vernum var. carpathicum

Leucojum vernum var. carpathicum

 

Leucojum vernum var carpathicum, with single green tips, in a pot. This is a good show plant, as are the rest.

Leucojum vernum var. carpathicum

Leucojum vernum var. carpathicum

 

Leucojum vernum Green Lantern, a new one for me.

Leucojum vernum Green Lantern

Leucojum vernum Green Lantern

 

Leucojum vernum Milly, frosted this morning – another recently added.

Leucojum vernum 'Milly'

Leucojum vernum ‘Milly’

 

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