Kew today - Snowdrops at home in the snow

A precocious harbinger of spring, this snowdrop can flower as early as December.

08 Jan 2010

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Galanthus elwesii

Galanthus elwesii

Hidden under a beautiful Acer palmatum in the Rock Garden, Galanthus elwesii comes from Turkey’s spectacular Taurus mountain range. The giant snowdrop has been known to have metre long leaves (although here at Kew they don't reach this extraordinary size), and has deliciously honey scented flowers.

Out of Turkey’s thirteen snowdrop species this is one of only two that are currently harvested for international trade, and these are actually some of those most frequently found in the wild. Turkish flower bulb companies employ local villagers to collect plants from targeted habitats. The Turkish authorities regulate these collections, set the annual collecting quotas and allocate them among the various bulb companies. The quota currently stands at 6 million wild plants per year – this may sound like an enormous number but it represents only a very small proportion of the wild population.

Kew is actively supporting conservation work on wild snowdrop species, including the monitoring of their cultivation for sustainable harvesting in countries where they are native.

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