19 Feb 2011

Gallanthus (Snowdrop)

Galanthus (Snowdrop; Greek gála "milk", ánthos "flower") is one of the first flowers to be seen in profusion in and around the Walled Garden in February.
These are nestling at the foot of a fig tree which is climbing one of the walls. Tim Marshall, Head Gardener at  Holkham Hall writing in the new Holkham Gazette says that 'Galanthus (snowdrop) want to be planted 'in the green' when they are in growth.' More snowdrops have just been planted in the Walled Garden, two of them are local varieties.

Galanthus  is a small genus of about 20 species of bulbous herbaceous plants in the Amaryllis family. The flower has no petals: it consists of six tepals, the outer three being larger and more convex than the inner series. An active substance in snowdrop is called galantamine  (or galanthamine) which can be helpful in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, though it is not a cure.
Keen snowdrop collectors are known as 'Galanthopiles', they have plenty to look for as there are many cultivars and hundreds of hybrids between these and other species including some very valuable ones.

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