Information on Snowdrop

Common Name: Snowdrop
Scientific Name: Galanthus nivalis
Irish Name: Plúirín sneachta
Family Group: Liliaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Snowdrop is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

One of the first flowers to dare to show its head in January and February, the Snowdrop is one of our best known spring bulbs.  A low-growing perennial which is found growing beside streams, on roadsides and in damp woods, this plant is a garden escape which has naturalised in the eastern side of the country.  The familiar little flowers have three white outer 'petals' (15-25mm long) - in reality these are sepals - and three white inner petals, each of these having a cleft with a green patch around it.  These sweet-scented flowers are borne, solitarily, on leafless stems, nodding below a terminal bract.  There are two or three blue-green narrow linear leaves to each bulb.  This plant belongs to the family Liliaceae.

My first record of finding Snowdrops in a wild setting was in 1979 at Roundwood, Co Wicklow 1979 and I photographed it in Ballitore, Co Kildare in 2009 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Lone Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing
On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers;
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years!

To a Snowdrop : William Wordsworth : 1770–1850

The Latin genus name – Galanthus comes from the Greek - gala meaning milk and anthos meaning flower.