Snowdrops are the earliest of the reserve’s wildflowers. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about them
ONE: the snowdrop’s genus name, Galanthus, is Greek and translates as milk flower.
TWO: the plant produces a substance called galantamine, which is used to help treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
THREE: snowdrops aren’t a UK native. Because they have been known under several different names, no one knows for sure when they were first introduced to British gardens. Botanist John Gerard is said to have described the snowdrop in his writings as early as 1597, but they weren’t recorded in the wild until 1778.
FOUR: digging up wild snowdrop bulbs is illegal. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, which covers the whole of the UK, it is illegal to uproot any wild plant without permission from the landowner or occupier.
FIVE: we are told that snowdrops were named after earrings, not drops of snow. Lexico, the Oxford Dictionary’s online manifestation, says:
Drop. Noun 5 – An earring that hangs down from the earlobe – eg ‘simple amethyst and diamond drops.’