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Common Snowdrop

Galanthus nivalis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Alliaceae (Onion)
Also in this family:
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, hedgerows, parks, riverbanks, roadsides, rocky places, towns, waterside, woodland.

White, 6 petals
The flower is made up of 3 outer and 3 inner white tepals. The inner tepals are bell-shaped and the flowers are borne on a solitary stem.
A capsule which contains the seeds.
Only 2 or 3 basal leaves exist and no stem leaves. The smooth, greyish, erect leaves are long and linear.
Flowers have a unique smell.
Other Names:
Candlemas Bells, Candlemas Lily, Common Bells, Dingle-dangle, Eve's Tears, Fair-maid's-of-February, February Fairmaids, Garden Snowdrop, Little-sister-of-the-snow, Mary's Taper, Milk Flower, Milky Snowdrops, Purification Flower, Snow Piercer.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Galanthus nivalis, commonly known as the common snowdrop, is a species of perennial flowering plant in the Amaryllidaceae family. It is native to Europe and western Asia, and it is hardy in USDA zones 4-8. It typically grows to a height of 4-8 inches (10-20 cm) with a spread of 3-6 inches (8-15 cm). The plant has narrow, linear leaves, and small, white, bell-shaped flowers that bloom in late winter to early spring. The flowers are drooping, they have six tepals, three outer tepals with a green mark at the base and three inner tepals that are pure white. The flowers are often the first to appear in the garden, hence the common name 'snowdrop' referring to the snow-like appearance of the flowers. Snowdrop is tolerant to cold and shade and it prefers well-drained soils, it's also tolerant to drought and it's often used as a ground cover, in mixed borders, naturalized areas and rock gardens.


Common Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) are a beautiful and beloved spring flower that can be found throughout Europe, Asia, and parts of North America. These small, delicate flowers are known for their white petals and striking green markings, which make them a favorite among gardeners and nature enthusiasts alike.

One of the most appealing aspects of Common Snowdrops is their ability to bloom early in the spring, often pushing through the snow to be the first flowers of the season. This hardiness and determination to bloom despite the cold weather is what gives the Common Snowdrop its name, as "Galanthus" is derived from the Greek words "gala" meaning milk, and "anthos" meaning flower.

Common Snowdrops are also known for their easy cultivation, as they can be planted in a variety of soils and locations. They are also relatively low maintenance, making them a great choice for gardeners who are looking for a spring flower that will not require a lot of care.

In addition to their beauty and ease of cultivation, Common Snowdrops have a rich history and cultural significance. They have been used for centuries as a symbol of hope and new beginnings, and are often associated with the coming of spring and the end of winter. They were also used as a medicine for centuries, for their ability to help with headaches, insomnia, and other ailments.

Another way to enjoy Common Snowdrops is to visit a snowdrop festival. Many gardens and arboretums across the country will host special events in the spring, showcasing the beauty and diversity of snowdrops. This is a great opportunity to see a wide variety of cultivars and varieties, and to learn more about the history and cultivation of this beloved flower.

In addition to their beauty and cultural significance, Common Snowdrops are also a valuable resource for wildlife. They are a source of nectar for early-flying bees and other pollinators, providing a much-needed food source as they emerge from hibernation. They also provide cover and habitat for small mammals, insects, and other animals.

Another interesting thing about Common Snowdrops is their ability to self-seed. This means that they can produce seeds that will germinate and grow into new plants, which can be a great way to increase the number of snowdrops in your garden over time. Some gardeners even leave some of the seed heads on the plants to allow them to self-seed. However, it's important to note that self-seeded snowdrops may not be true to the original cultivar and may have variations in color, size, and form.

Common Snowdrops can also be propagated through division. This method involves carefully digging up and dividing the bulbs, and then replanting them in a new location. This is a great way to increase the number of snowdrops in your garden, and can be done every 3-5 years.

Another popular way to enjoy Common Snowdrops is by forcing them to bloom indoors. This can be done by digging up the bulbs in the fall, storing them in a cool and dark place, and then planting them in pots in the winter. With proper care, they will bloom indoors in the early spring, bringing a touch of spring into your home.

In conclusion, Common Snowdrops are a versatile and beloved spring flower that offer a range of benefits to both gardeners and wildlife. They can be grown in a variety of ways, whether it be through self-seeding, division, or forcing them indoors. Whether you're planting them in your garden, visiting a snowdrop festival, or simply enjoying them in the wild, Common Snowdrops are sure to bring a touch of beauty and wonder to your life.


Snowdrops - A Symbol of Hope

In winter's grasp, when snow abounds
A tiny flower, breaks the grounds
It rises up, so pure and white
A beacon of hope, in winter's blight

Snowdrops they're called, a fragile sight
But in the cold, they hold their might
They bloom so early, in the year
And bring a promise, that spring is near

Their petals are like drops of snow
So soft and gentle, a tranquil glow
They nod their heads, in the winter breeze
A peaceful dance, that puts us at ease

Their beauty hides a secret, too
For snowdrops, they're a sign anew
Of hope and life, that soon will come
When winter's grip, will be undone

So if you see a snowdrop bloom
Take a moment, and let it consume
Your heart and mind, with its grace
And feel the hope, in its embrace

Let's cherish these snowdrops, so bright
For they bring hope, in the winter's night
Snowdrops, they're a gift, so true
A symbol of hope, that's meant for you


Common Snowdrop filmed at Duxbury, Lancashire on the 28th January 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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