Snowdrop represents the common name for 20 species of small flowers within a small genus, with all of them being herbaceous plants. Their name derives from the tendency of most varieties to actually flower in the winter.
The Snowdrop often actually appears blooming in the snow. A few types exist that produce flowers in early spring or late autumn, however. Several species also now face the threat of extinction. In these cases, collecting flowers in the wild remains forbidden by law in many countries.
In accordance with CITES regulations, it now constitutes a crime to engage in the international trade of most Snowdrop varieties. This applies to bulbs, live plants, and even dead ones.
Snowdrop Physical Characteristics
Most types of Snowdrop develop as rather diminutive plants. Typical varieties attain a height of around 6 in (15 cm). Two known species, however, attain heights ranging from 9-12 in (23.5-30 cm).
All varieties grow from bulbs, and each of these bulbs produces only a single stalk. Each stalk typically includes 2-3 long, tapering leaves.
Each stalk also produces a single flower that appears bell-shaped and white in color. The flower has six tepals, instead of petals. The outer three typically grow larger than the inner three. The seeds appear whitish in color, and typically get spread by ants.
Snowdrop Distribution and Endangered Status
All recognized species of Snowdrop evolved as endemic to parts of Europe and the Middle East. This native range extends from Spain, France, and Germany to Iran.
Many varieties now rank as Endangered. One species also appears to exist in only 5 locations. These comprise a total area of only 7.7 sq mi (20 sq. km). The government actually destroyed one of these sites in preparation for the Sochi Olympics in 2012.