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Snowdon Lily

Gagea serotina

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Liliaceae (Lily)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
15 centimetres tall
Cliffs, gardens, mountains, rocky places.

White, 6 petals
Purple-veined white flowers. They are solitary and bell-shaped, about 2cm across.
The fruit is a capsule.
2 very narrow basal leaves, stiff, curved and grass-like. There are a few more leaves higher up the stem.
Other Names:
Alpine Lily, Common Alplily, Late-flowering Star-of-Bethlehem, Mountain Spiderwort, Snowdon Alplily.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Gagea serotina, also known as the late-flowering star-of-Bethlehem, is a species of bulbous perennial plant that is native to Central and Eastern Europe. It is a small plant, growing to a height of 4-6 inches, with basal leaves and a single stem bearing a star-shaped yellow flowers. The flowers usually appear in late spring or early summer, after the leaves have died back. This plant prefers well-drained, humus-rich soil and partial shade. It is often grown in rock gardens, as ground cover, or as a container plant. Gagea serotina is also known for its ornamental use in gardens.


The Snowdon Lily, also known as Gagea serotina, is a beautiful and rare wildflower that can be found in the high mountain ranges of Wales and Scotland. This delicate lily is a member of the Liliaceae family and is one of the first plants to bloom in the spring, often poking through the snow and ice.

The Snowdon Lily has narrow, linear leaves that are typically around 4-5cm long and 1-2mm wide. The flowers are small and yellow, with six tepals, or petals, that are arranged in a star shape. They typically bloom in April and May, and can be found growing in rocky crevices and alpine meadows.

One of the most interesting things about the Snowdon Lily is its rarity. It is considered to be an endangered species, and is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. The main threat to the Snowdon Lily is habitat loss due to overgrazing, as well as climate change, which is causing the mountain ranges in which it grows to become warmer and drier.

Despite its rarity, the Snowdon Lily is a hardy plant that has adapted to survive in some of the harshest conditions on Earth. It is able to survive in areas with low oxygen levels and high levels of ultraviolet radiation, thanks to its ability to photosynthesize in extreme conditions.

The Snowdon Lily is also an important plant for many of the local communities in Wales and Scotland. It is a symbol of the rugged beauty of the mountains, and is often used in traditional folklore and legends.

In addition to its ecological significance, the Snowdon Lily also has a rich cultural history. In Wales, the plant has been associated with St. David, the patron saint of Wales, and is said to have sprung up wherever his foot touched the ground. It is also believed that the Snowdon Lily has medicinal properties, and has been used in traditional Welsh medicine to treat a variety of ailments, such as kidney problems and skin conditions.

In Scotland, the Snowdon Lily is known as the "Fairy's Thimble" and is said to bring good luck to anyone who finds one. In the past, it was also believed that if a bride wore a Snowdon Lily on her wedding day, it would bring good luck to her marriage.

In recent years, conservation efforts have been made to protect the Snowdon Lily and its habitat. One such effort is the Snowdon Lily Project, a partnership between the Snowdonia National Park Authority, Plantlife International, and the National Trust, which aims to protect and conserve the Snowdon Lily and its habitat. This includes monitoring populations, controlling grazing, and restoring habitats through the planting of native species.

As climate change continues to impact the mountain ranges in which the Snowdon Lily grows, it is important to continue these conservation efforts to ensure the survival of this beautiful and rare wildflower. In addition, educating the public about the importance of the Snowdon Lily and its habitat can help to raise awareness and inspire more people to take action to protect this precious species.

In short, Snowdon Lily is a unique and rare wildflower that has a significant ecological and cultural value. It is an important symbol of the rugged beauty of the mountains, and has been associated with traditional folklore and legends. The conservation efforts are vital to preserve the species and its habitat. It is important to raise awareness among people to protect this precious species.

Another important aspect of the Snowdon Lily is its distribution and the habitats it prefers. Gagea serotina is a mountain plant and it is found primarily in the high mountain ranges of Wales and Scotland. It is also known to occur in some parts of Ireland and some parts of north-west England. In these areas, the Snowdon Lily can be found growing in rocky crevices and alpine meadows, often at elevations of over 800m. It prefers well-drained, rocky soils and can tolerate exposure to high levels of ultraviolet radiation and low levels of oxygen.

Due to its preference for high elevations, the Snowdon Lily is considered a montane or alpine species. These types of habitats are characterized by their harsh conditions, with low temperatures, high winds, and low levels of precipitation. As a result, the Snowdon Lily has developed a number of adaptations that allow it to survive in these harsh conditions. For example, it has a deep taproot that allows it to access water and nutrients from deep in the soil, and it has a thick cuticle on its leaves that helps to reduce water loss.

The Snowdon Lily is also a short-lived perennial plant, which means it lives for a few years, flowers and dies. It reproduces by seed and it can also reproduce vegetatively by producing offsets or bulbils. The seed of the Snowdon Lily can remain dormant in the soil for several years before germinating, which allows the plant to survive in conditions where the seed would otherwise be unable to germinate.

It is also important to note that the Snowdon Lily is not just limited to the mountain ranges of Wales and Scotland, it can also be found in other parts of Europe, and it has been found as far afield as the Himalayas and North America. However, these populations are not as well studied as the ones in the UK, and it is not known how they compare in terms of population size or conservation status.

In conclusion, the Snowdon Lily, Gagea serotina, is a unique and beautiful wildflower that is found primarily in the high mountain ranges of Wales and Scotland. It has a rich cultural history and is an important symbol of the rugged beauty of the mountains. It is an endangered species that requires conservation efforts to protect its habitat and ensure its survival. It is adapted to survive in harsh conditions, reproduces by seed and vegetatively. It can be found in other parts of Europe and even in other parts of the world, but the population size and conservation status are not as well studied as the UK populations.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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