Galanthus - The Snowdrop
At this time of the year the true snowdrops are flowering. This small plants should not be confused with the larger and more popular Snowflakes that flower later.
Galanthus are found in the wild throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. There are 20 species in the genus. They have been cultivated from many years and many species and forms provide an interesting display in the garden when there is nothing else in flower. They do best in cool climates.
Galanthus byzantinus from southern Europe is one of the best species. Its wide, long deep green leaves which set off the white, globular flowers held aloft on longer stems.
Galanthus caucasicus is quite desirable and flowers earlier than the others. It has large rounded white flowers
Galanthus elwesii is one of the best snowdrops. It produces several stems of white flowers with green markings on the petals.
Galanthus nivalis is the most common species and there are several cultivars. Single white flowers tipped with green are borne on the stems in early spring.
Galanthus plicatus has very large flowers with prominent green markings around the inner segments and it flowers later.
Galanthus species that are closely related are able to hybridize in the garden and int he wild. Better minds than mine spend hours, days weeks years identifying and sorting out species and sub species, hybrids and cultivars.
Further reading about Galanthus can be found online at the following websites. Let me know of other sites as well.