Galanthus nivalis L.

600 (I). G. nivalis L. Sp. Pl. (1753) 288; Hayek Prodr. Fl Penins. Balc. Ill (1933) 101; Стоянов и Стефанов Фл. на Бълг. изд. 3 (1948) 267 — Снежно кокиче

Fam:   Amarillidaceae Lindl.
Genus:   Galanthus L.
Species: Galanthus nivalis L.
English Name: Snowdrop or Common snowdrop


Perennial plant. The bulb spherical to ovoid, 1 - 1.5 cm in diameter, with a fairly dense sheath of dry old leaves (usually 3-layered). The stem reaches up to 20 cm, equally thick at the top and bottom. Leaves flat, linear, 4 - 15 mm wide (in adult), up to 15 cm long, broader at the top, ± blunt, with a slightly protruding midrib on the lower surface, with bluish waxy adhesion especially in age. Perianth funnel-shaped or bell-shaped. Outer perianth leaflets 12 - 25 mm long. The remaining marks are covered by the marks of the genus.

Note. Depending on the general environmental conditions under which this species grows in different parts of our country, there are deviations in one direction or another affecting almost all parts of the plants. Thus, the bulb is less than 1 cm in diameter in some and up to 1.5 cm in others. The stem varies in size from 8 to 20 cm or more. It is also found in leaves - 5 to 15 cm long and 4 cm up to 15 mm wide. The blossoms vary in size too - 12 to 25 mm. As for the inner perianth leaves, their coloration is green at the top and bottom, the variety is still great. And since these individual traits cannot be found in constant and unaltered combinations, it is taxonomically unreasonable, in our view, to group them into different forms, varieties and even species, as some authors have suggested. The reason for this can be found in Stoyanov and Stefanov's Flora of Bulgaria, ed. 3 (1948) 267, where, by giving two varieties, with which the species - var. gracilis (Čelak,) is presented in our country Stoj. Et Stef and var. maximus (Vel.) Stoj, et Stef. It is added that "there are transitions between the two forms."

Economic importance. Until a little while ago, the snowdrop was known as the earliest-flowering (albeit small) beautiful plant, collected mostly by predators, at least unreasonably. Now somewhere it is already cultivated as an ornamental plant, and for this purpose, even larger and more beautiful forms created on the way of selection are used. It is believed that it gives bees early spring nectar and especially pollen. There is little use in folk medicine. From 7 to 8 years old, it was used in scientific medicine because it found the healing alkaloid galantamine (nivalin). Our country is a manufacturer of the Nivalin specialty, recommended for the treatment of polio and other diseases.

¹ Developed by D. Yordanov.

From:   „Флора на Н. Р. България”, том II, БАН, София, (1964)

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Galanthus nivalis, the snowdrop or common snowdrop, is the best-known and most widespread of the 20 species in its genus, Galanthus. Snowdrops are among the first bulbs to bloom in spring and can form impressive carpets of white in areas where they are native or have been naturalised. They should not be confused with the snowflakes, in the genera Leucojum and Acis.

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The generic name Galanthus, from the Greek gala (milk) and anthos (flower), was given to the genus by Carl Linnaeus in 1735. He described Galanthus nivalis in his Species Plantarum published in 1753. The epithet nivalis means "of the snow", referring either to the snow-like flower or the plant's early flowering.[3]
The common name snowdrop first appeared in the 1633 edition of John Gerard's Great Herbal (in the first edition (1597) he described it as the "Timely flowring Bulbus violet"). The derivation of the name is uncertain, although it may have come from the German word Schneetropfen, which was a type of earring popular around that time.[4] Other British traditional common names include "February fairmaids", "dingle-dangle", "Candlemas bells", "Mary's tapers"[5] and, in parts of Yorkshire, "snow piercers" (like the French name perce-neige).[6]

Distribution and habitat

Galanthus nivalis is widely grown in gardens, particularly in northern Europe, and is widely naturalised in woodlands in the regions where it is grown. It is, however, native to a large area of Europe, from Spain in the west, eastwards to Ukraine. It is native to Albania, Armenia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine. It is considered naturalised in Great Britain, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and parts of North America (Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Ontario, Massachusetts, Alabama, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Washington State, New York State, Michigan, Utah, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina).[7][8]
Although often thought of as a British native wild flower, or to have been brought to the British Isles by the Romans, it is now thought that it was probably introduced much later, perhaps around the early sixteenth century.[9]


Galanthus nivalis grows to around 7–15 cm tall, flowering between January and April in the northern temperate zone (January–May in the wild).[9] They are perennial, herbaceous plants which grow from bulbs. Each bulb generally produces two linear, or very narrowly lanceolate, greyish-green leaves and an erect, leafless scape (flowering stalk), which bears at the top a pair of bract-like spathe valves joined by a papery membrane. From between them emerges a solitary, pendulous, bell-shaped white flower, held on a slender pedicel.
The flower consists of six tepals, also referred to as segments. The outer three are larger and more convex than the inner ones. The inner flower segments are usually marked on their outer surface with a green or greenish-yellow V- or U-shaped mark (sometimes described as "bridge-shaped") over the small sinus (notch) at the tip of each tepal. The inner surface has a faint green mark covering all or most of it. Occasionally plants are found with green markings on the outer surface of the outer tepals.
The six long, pointed anthers open by pores or short slits. The ovary is three-celled, ripening into a three-celled capsule. Each whitish seed has a small, fleshy tail (the elaiosome) containing substances attractive to ants which distribute the seeds.[10] The leaves die back a few weeks after the flowers have faded.
G. nivalis is a cross-pollinating plant, but sometimes self-pollination takes place. It is pollinated by bees.[1]

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Flowering Time: Blooms from late January to early April.

Distribution in Bulgaria: (Conspectus of the Bulgarian Vascular Flora) = conspectus&gs_l= Zlc.

Distribution: Central Europe, Italy, Hungary, Poland, the western parts of the USSR, the Balkan Peninsula (excluding the evergreen areas), and according to some foreign authors in Asia Minor. Other species very close to G, nivalis L grow in the Caucasus region.

Conservation status and threats: protected species in Bulgaria by the Biodiversity Law. - Biological Diversity Act -

Medical plant: yes, it is medical plant - Medicinal Plants Act -

References: „Флора на Н. Р. България”, том II, БАН, София, (1964), Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.


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