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Snow drops are fairly common and often you might see them on roadsides in wooded areas. The generally perceived wisdom is that they are usually garden escapes.Snowdrops3

That conjures up a great picture of snowdrops running down the road to escape from their garden prison and return to a live in the wild. Anyway I question how one can say whether a certain plant that is not growing in a proper garden is a so-called ‘escape’

Some snowdrops are definite escapees because plant breeders have cultivated different variations on the wild theme, so some flowers are ‘doubles’ some have extra long petals and so on.  In the original and in my opinion the most perfect form, the flower has three outer petals and three inner petals. In fact strictly speaking they are referred to as Tepals. What is a Tepal ? Well its sort of half Petal and half Sepal. Some plants do not have the typical outer ring of green sepals which protect the inner brightly coloured petals. Plants like Tulips and Lilies and Anemones, they just have a ring of bits which are green when in bud but then colour up and become pretty when they open into a flower, thus the word Tepals.

To be honest I think that Snowdrops are a bit borderline. They have three outer tepals which are very much like sepals and then a ring of three much smaller tepals which are more like petals that form a sort of tube in the middle and normally have a bit of green colouration.Snowdrops2

So what else can I tell you about snowdrops? Well they grow all over Northern Europe from the Pyrenees north  and extend east to Poland and Slovakia. They have lots of common names, some of which are quite silly, like Dingle Dangles, February fairmaids, Candlemas bells, Mary’s tapers] and, in parts of Yorkshire,”snow piercers” (like their French name perce-neige).]

They have  six long, pointed anthers which open by pores or short slits. The ovary is three-celled, ripening into a three-celled capsule. Each whitish seed has a small, fleshy tail (the elaiosome) containing substances attractive to ants which distribute the seeds.  So they do not have to leg it down the road to escape from garden servitude, they can get ants to do the leg work for them, well for their offspring at least.

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