Galanthus cultivars (snowdrops)

Family: Amaryllidaceae

Snowdrops are famed for their charming white flowers that speckle woodland floors and gardens to herald spring. Carl Linnaeus, whom we attribute modern plant naming to, coined the word Galanthus from the Greek words gala, meaning milk, and anthos, meaning flower.

The word ‘snowdrop’ first appeared in literature in the mid 1600s and was probably derived from Schneetropfen, the German name for pearl earrings resembling the shape of snowdrop flowers, that were particularly fashionable at the time.

Since the 1800s, when galanthophilia (snowdrop craze) began, plant hunters discovered new species and began breeding hybrids and cultivars. The craze never stopped and today we have many galanthophiles among us who celebrate and revere the modest snowdrop as much as we do.

Notice in front of you the vast array of Galanthus species and cultivars, of which there are over a hundred here at Chelsea Physic Garden today. It is not immediately obvious what the differences between each type are but the more you look the more you will notice the variation in the inner tepals, outer tepals, colouration of the leaves, height and so forth. Look closely. Do you have a favourite?

Galanthus elwesii var. monostictus
Galanthus ‘Honeysuckle Cottage’
Galanthus ‘Desdemona’
Galanthus ‘Mrs Thompson’
Galanthus ‘Hippolyta’
Galanthus ‘Wendy’s Gold’
Galanthus ‘Green Teeth’
Galanthus ‘Marjorie Brown’
Galanthus elwesii ‘Grumpy’


Heralding Spring Trail Map