Galanthus reginae-olgae

A small population of Galanthus reginae-olgae in the Taigetos mountains in the second week of October.

Galanthus reginae-olgae is a snowdrop flowering in autumn (1), probably the earliest snowdrop to do so.  In the wild it is confined to southern European countries; the plant grows in the Balkans, Greece and south-Italy. There are reports of an isolated population in Tuscany, but the question remains if it is natural or naturalized (2, 3). In Greece, it can notably be found in the Taigetos Mountains near Sparta and on the island Corfu (the species is also known as Galanthus corcyrensis, after the Latin name for Corfu). The populations of these locations are separated in flowering time, with the population from the Taigetos Mountains flowering in October-November and the Corfu population generally flowering one month later. In culture the plants might even flower in early September.
G. reginae-olgae is closely related to G. nivalis andit was initially considered a subtype of G. nivalis. A snowdrop sold as G. imperati was known in earlier times, which derived from Italy. This plant might either have been a hybrid between the species, or an intermediate form.
Flower scapes grow from 8 to 15 cm in length (4). Leaves have applanate verniation and reach a size of 8-18cm x 0,5-0,8cm at maturity. Leaves of G. reginae-olgae display a distinctive median grey line, more strongly marked than in any other snowdrop species.The plant prefers a niche of north-facing rock slopes near streams under deciduous trees, something it shares with many snowdrop species. It is usually found at heights from 600 to 1200m in the wild.

G. reginae-olgae subsp. vernalis in culture, originally selected from Corovode, Albania by Edulis nursery.

A subspecies named G. reginae-olgae subsp. vernalis is known, which flowers in winter to early spring, generally with the leaves present in more advanced stages than G. reginae-olgae subsp. reginae-olgae at flowering time. For example, on Mount Orjen in Montenegro, subspecies vernalis might be found flowering in March with well-developed leaves (5). Other locations include Sicily, such as the population of Portella della Femmina Morta and the Nebrodi mountains.

Locations of G. reginae-olgae on Sicily display on google maps (maps.google.com) and found in (6).

In cultivation
Despite its southern heritage, the plant is borderline hardy on the British Isles and coastal areas of Europe, such as the Netherlands and Belgium. In these areas growers report success in establish growing colonies. However, in many gardens the plants survive, but just by a thread, as they do not manage to propagate. Depending on the local microclimate, the plants may be better grown under cold glass.

In recent years, many notable cultivars have been developed by plantsman like Melvyn Jope and Joe Sharman. Examples include ‘Pink Panther’, ‘Melvyn Jope’ and ‘Foursome’.

‘Melvyn Jope’, a reginae-olgae with particurlarly broad petals.


‘Melvyn Jope’ on the right, with the notably broad perianths of the variety. On the left an immature bulb of the g. reginae-olgae cultivar ‘Foursome’, which displays four outer and inner petals when mature.

‘Pink Panther’ under a pink light for increased colouring. Note: other reginae-olgae do not show this tint under similar lighting.

Table adapted from (2)

Average Min Average Max
Bulb length (cm) 1,2 2,2
Bulb width (cm) 1 1,6
Sheath 2,5 8
Leaves length (cm) 8 20
Leaves width (cm) 0,5 0,8
Flower scape (cm) 8 13
Pedicel (mm) 20 30
Inner perianth length (mm) 10 12
Inner perianth width (mm) 4 6
Outer perianth length (mm) 19 25
Outer perianth width (mm) 6 11
Capsule diameter (mm) ~10
Perianth mark V- to U-Shape, with sinus
Seeds (mm) 5
  1. Tom Mitchell. Galanthus reginae-olgae subsp. reginae-olgae. Revolution snowdrops.
  2. EnzoDS. Galanthus Reginae-Olgae. Florae-Italiae Forum 2017. 
  3. Airone. Galanthus Reginae-Olgae. Florae-Italiae Forum 2008.
  4. Galanthus reginae-olgae. Galanthus wild species. CITES Bulbs.
  5. Tom Mitchell. Galanthus reginae-olgae subsp. vernalis. Revolution snowdrops.
  6. Giardina G, Raimondo FM, Spadaro V. A catalogue of plants growing on Sicily. Bocconea 20: 5-582. 2007
Last updated bySiopaos
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