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Leucojum vernum (spring snowflake)

The spring snowflake is a popularly cultivated bulbous plant with delicate white flowers, and belongs to the same family as the snowdrops.
Photo of Leucojum vernum

Leucojum vernum (spring snowflake). Photo: Licensed under CC by SA 3.0

Species information

Scientific name: 

Leucojum vernum L.

Common name: 

spring snowflake (English); nivéole du printemps (French); campanelle comuni (Italian); Frühlings-Knotenblume, Grosses Schneeglöckchen, Märzenglöckchen (German).

Conservation status: 

Not yet assessed according to IUCN criteria.

Habitat: 

Damp woods, thickets, hedge banks and meadows; usually in hilly areas and on calcareous soils.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental, medicinal.

Known hazards: 

All parts of the plant are poisonous, especially the bulbs.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Lilianae
Order: 
Asparagales
Family: 
Amaryllidaceae
Genus: Leucojum

About this species

The spring snowflake was described as Leucojum vernum by the renowned Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753. The scientific name means ‘spring white violet’ (Leucojum means ‘white violet’ and vernum means ‘spring’). L. vernum is a widely cultivated, hardy, frost-tolerant plant, notable as a good early nectar and pollen source for bees.

Although both snowflakes (Leucojum species) and snowdrops (Galanthus species) belong to the family Amaryllidaceae, they have clear differentiating characters. While snowflakes have six equal tepals (petals and sepals that are similar to each other), in snowdrops the three inner tepals are shorter and broader than the three outer tepals.

Genus: 
Leucojum

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