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Galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)

Common snowdrop is one of the most popular of all cultivated bulbous plants, and its flowering is traditionally seen to herald the end of winter.
Closed flowers of the common snowdrop

The delicate white hanging flowers of Galanthus nivalis

Species information

Scientific name: 

Galanthus nivalis L.

Common name: 

common snowdrop, snowdrop, flower of hope (English); galantine d’hiver, perce-neige (French); bucaneve (Italian); hovirag (Hungarian)

Conservation status: 

Near Threatened (NT) according to IUCN Red List criteria.


Mostly deciduous woodland, but occasionally coniferous woodland. Also in meadows, pasture, amongst scrub, near rivers and on stony slopes, particularly on calcareous soils.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental, medicinal, insecticide

Known hazards: 

Snowdrops and their bulbs are poisonous to humans and can cause nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting if eaten in large quantities.


Genus: Galanthus

About this species

Galanthus nivalis was described by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in his Species Plantarum in 1753, and given the specific epithet nivalis, meaning snowy (Galanthus means with milk-white flowers). This narrow-leaved snowdrop, with its delicate white hanging flowers, has become very popular in cultivation and is commonly planted in gardens and parks. It is now a familiar sight even in the British Isles and northern France where it is not native.


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