Friday, 21 February 2014

Snowdrops

The bulbous little plants we know as Snowdrops, have the scientific name Galanthus nivalis. This comes from the Greek Gala (meaning 'milk') and Anthos (meaning 'flower').  Nivalis means 'of the snow', so the plants are well named 'Milk-flowers of the snow'.  Snowdrop, is much less of a mouthful.
Our walk in the sunshine this morning, took us up Shipley Hill and around the gardens and woods at the top and it is here, that the Snowdrop spectacle is at its best right now.
For such a 'traditional' plant in the UK, we often think of it as a native species, but it was probably introduced to these islands in the sixteenth century.  The name 'Snowdrop' first appeared in print in the UK in 1633 and is probably a derrivation of the German word 'Schneetropfen' which was a popular kind of ear-ring in those times.
Snowdrops contain an active chemical called galantamine, which is of some use in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.  All of this is interesting, but when faced with an early Spring display of these little beauties, you just have to forget all that and just stand and stare.
We did quite a lot of standing and staring this morning.  Maybe Spring is on it's way and after all the rain we've had, it's nice to see the ground just beginning to dry out a bit.
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