Get to know your snowdrops!
Nothing marks the onset of spring like the snowdrop, with its dainty, white, nodding flowers. Look inside the flower and you will see intricate and delicate green markings which help identify them.
There are 110 UK gardens opening to the public for the 2023 National Garden Scheme Snowdrop Festival. What better way to shake off winter and get the kids out in the fresh air? Here are a few fun facts to share with them along the way:
Did you know…
- The snowdrop was officially named ‘Galanthus’ (translated from the Greek for milk flower) in 1753 by the Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus. Since then more than 2,500 varieties have been identified, varying in height from 7-30cm, with distinctive single or double flowers.
- Snowdrops were named after earrings, not drops of snow. In the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries women loved to wear dangly, white drop-shaped earrings, known as ‘eardrops’. Some other common names of snowdrops are: Candlemas Bells, Snow Piercers, Flower of Hope, and Dingle-dangle.
- “Galanthophile” is the name given to people who are crazy about snowdrops, and some will go to any lengths to increase their collection. Despite the bulb’s small size, in 2022 a single Galanthus plicatus ‘Golden Tears’ sold for a whopping £1,850!
- Galantamine, a naturally occurring substance found in snowdrops, is used to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, although the bulbs themselves are poisonous.
- Snowdrops contain a natural anti-freeze, which means that even if they collapse in freezing weather, they will recover completely once the temperature rises.
- Snowdrops provide a vital nectar source for bees, but they don’t waste this precious food as the outer petals only open to reveal the nectar inside once the temperature rises above 10°C, and close when the temperature drops.This magical feat of nature ties in perfectly, as this is also the temperature when bumble bees come out of hibernation, desperate for a sugary fix! The green markings inside the delicate flowers act light landing lights, guiding the sleepy bees to an early feast.