Leucojum vernum

Leucojum vernum, called spring snowflake,[2] is a perennial bulbous flowering plant species in the family Amaryllidaceae that includes the onions, daffodils and Agapanthus.[1] It is native to central and southern Europe from Belgium to Ukraine. It is considered naturalized in north-western Europe, including Great Britain and parts of Scandinavia, and in the US states of Georgia and Florida. It is cultivated as a spring-flowering ornamental bulbous plant. Usually a single white flower with greenish marks near the tip of each tepal is borne on a stem about 10–20 cm tall, occasionally more.

Spring snowflake
Bledule jarní v PR Králova zahrada 03.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Amaryllidoideae
Genus: Leucojum
L. vernum
Binomial name
Leucojum vernum
  • Galanthus vernus (L.) All.
  • Nivaria verna (L.) Moench
  • Erinosma verna (L.) Herb.


Leucojum vernum is a perennial bulbous plant, 12–35 cm tall in flower. Its leaves, which appear at the same time as the flowers and continue to elongate during flowering, are 5–25 mm wide and 10–25 cm long, generally reaching to below the level of the flowers. The flowering stem (scape) has a small central cavity and two narrow wings. The pendant flowers appear in spring and are usually solitary, rarely in an umbel of two. The flowers have six white tepals, each with a greenish or yellowish mark just below the tip. Each tepal is 15–25 mm long. The whitish seeds are about 7 mm long.[2][3][4]


Leucojum vernum was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.[1][5] The epithet vernum means "of the spring".[6]


Two varieties are accepted by the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families:[7]

  • Leucojum vernum var. carpathicum SweetCarpathian Mountains (Czech Republic, Romania, Ukraine)
  • Leucojum vernum var. vernum

A third variety is recognized by some sources, but not by the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families:[8]

  • Leucojum vernum var. vagneri Stapf

L. vernum var. carpathicum is distinguished by presence of yellow rather than greenish markings at the tip of each tepal.[2] Sources that distinguish var. vagneri from var. vernum describe it as more vigorous and flowering earlier, with two flowers per scape. It comes true from seed as it does not cross with var. vernum.[2][9]

Distribution and habitatEdit

Leucojum vernum is native to central Europe and parts of southern and western Europe, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, France, Italy, Romania, former Yugoslavia and the Ukraine. It has become naturalized in other parts of Europe, including Great Britain, the Netherlands and parts of Scandinavia, and in Georgia and Florida in the United States.[1][2] It is found in damp and shady habitats, including woods, up to elevations of 1600 m.[2]


Leucojum vernum is cultivated as an ornamental plant for its white flowers in spring. It is described as "easy to grow", either in sun or partial shade, particularly in moist soil and in grass.[3] The species has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[10]


Many cultivars are available, including:[9]

  • 'Butter-churn' (L. vernum) – large yellowish flowers, one or two per stem, sometimes two fused together
  • 'Eva Habermeier' (L. vernum) – yellow apical marks
  • 'Gertrude Wister' (L. v. var. carpathicum) – semi-double
  • 'Golden Bell' (L. v. var. carpathicum) – yellow ovary and tepal markings
  • 'Green Lantern' (L. v. var. vernum) – vigorous, tepals about one-third green with a sharp apex
  • 'Greengotts' (L. v. var. vagneri) – second earliest to flower, large apical green markings
  • 'Hoch die Tassen' (L. v. var. vernum) – flowers face upwards (hoch die Tassen means 'raise your glasses')
  • 'Janus' (L. v. var. vagneri) – flowers early, in the first week of January
  • 'Klara' (L. v. var. carpathicum) – smaller stature, open, funnel-like flowers
  • 'Lothar' (L. vernum) – long pedicels, up to three flowers per bulb
  • 'Milly' (L. v. var. vernum) – one to six extra long, narrow, completely green tepals; comes true from seed
  • 'Null Punkte' (L. v. var. vernum) – markings small or absent
  • 'Podpolozje' (L. v. var. carpathicum) – large flowers with a large apical mark, mostly two flowers per stem
  • 'Tentacular' (L. vernum) – double, green markings


All species of Leucojum are poisonous, as the leaves and bulbs contain the toxic alkaloids lycorine and galantamine.[11] Galantamine is used for the treatment of cognitive decline in mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease and various other memory impairments.[12][13]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Leucojum vernum". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2017-12-20. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Grey-Wilson, Christopher; Mathew, Brian & Blamey, Marjorie (1981). Bulbs : the bulbous plants of Europe and their allies. London: Collins. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-00-219211-8.
  3. ^ a b Mathew, Brian (1987). The Smaller Bulbs. London: B.T. Batsford. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-7134-4922-8.
  4. ^ Webb, D.A. (1980). "Leucojum vernum". In Tutin, T.G.; Heywood, V.H.; Burges, N.A.; Valentine, D.H.; Walters, S.M. & Webb, D.A. (eds.). Flora Europaea, Volume 5: Alismataceae to Orchidaceae. Cambridge University Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-521-06662-4.
  5. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1753). "Leucojum". Species Plantarum. vol. I. p. 289. Retrieved 2017-12-20. |volume= has extra text (help)CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Hyam, R. & Pankhurst, R.J. (1995). Plants and their names : a concise dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 518. ISBN 978-0-19-866189-4.
  7. ^ "Search for Leucojum vernum". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2017-12-20. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. '^ "'Leucojum vernum var. vagneri Stapf". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2021-02-05. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ a b Boens, Wim (March 2017). "An overview of Leucojum". The Plantsman. New Series. 16 (1): 20–25.
  10. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Leucojum vernum". Retrieved 19 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Straley, Gerald B. & Utech, Frederick H. "Leucojum aestivum". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America (online). eFloras.org. Retrieved 2017-12-17. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "Galantamine". Drugs.com. 2017. Retrieved 2017-12-18. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ Birks, J. (2006). Birks, Jacqueline S (ed.). "Cholinesterase inhibitors for Alzheimer's disease". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1): CD005593. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005593. PMID 16437532.

External linksEdit