Galanthus nivalis

Galanthus nivalis is a hardy plant, usually found growing in deciduous forests ranging from the Pyrenees in the west to Ukraine in the east (1). The species can be found at heights of 100-1600m, preferring shady, north-facing sloping sites. It seems to grow often in association with beech, oak, hornbeam, elm, ash and lime. The leaf mulch of the trees allows for a fertile soil. Like many snowdrop species, it has a tendency to grow near river basins and spring streams. The water might even support the spread of bulbs. It has a fondness for shade, lending it a tendency to be found on northern slopes. Leaves have applanate verniation, reaching a length of 5-15cm and width of 0,4-1cm at maturity. Flower scapes are around 15-20cms. The flowers exists of whirls of three inner and three outer perianths for normal type nivalis. At the apex of the inner segments an inverted u or v can be found.

The populations on the British isles, northern France and the Netherlands are thought to be naturalized, as most snowdrops there are present in sterile, clonal groups. In contrast, nivalis in other parts of Europe, such as Belgium and Germany, can often spread by seed as well. Such as occurring in the scharlockii group of nivalis in the Ardennes. It is unclear if there are pure g. nivalis in Turkey, where most nivalis genes are present in the hybrid cross with G. plicatus called G. x valentinei. Notably, G. nivalis from the southern range (i.e. southern Italy and former Yugoslavia) may have a glaucous central stripe like that of G. reginae-olgae.

Nivalis Average Min Average Max
Bulb length (cm) 2 2,4
Bulb width (cm) 1,1 1,7
Leaves length (cm) 5 15
Leaves width (cm) 0,4 1
Flower scape (cm) 7 15
Pedicel (mm) 12 30
Inner perianth length (mm) 7 12
Inner perianth width (mm) 4 6
Outer perianth length (mm) 15 23
Outer perianth width (mm) 6 11
Capsule diameter (mm) 10 16
Perianth mark V- to U-Shape
Seeds (mm) 4
Average seed numbers (2) 6

From (1) unless stated otherwise

  1. Galanthus nivalis. CITES Bulbs.
  2. Newton RJ, Hay FR, Ellis RH.Seed development and maturation in early spring-flowering Galanthus nivalis and Narcissus pseudonarcissus continues post-shedding with little evidence of maturation in planta Ann Bot 2013 May; 111(5):945-955.
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