The first Snowdrop sighted on Unixplorian soil this Spring!


The snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) 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 naturalized. They should not be confused with the snowflakes in the genera Leucojum and Acis.

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 to the snow-like flower or the plant’s early flowering.

The common name snowdrop first appeared in the 1633 edition of John Gerard’s Great Herbal (in the first edition (of 1597), he described it as the “Timely flowering Bulbus violet”). The derivation of the name is uncertain, although it may have come from the German word Schneetropfen, a type of earring popular around that time. Other British traditional common names include “February fair maids,” “dingle-dangle,” “Candlemas bells,” “Mary’s tapers,” and, in parts of Yorkshire, “snow piercers” (like the French name perce-neige).

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