Leucojum vernum

I always feel that spring is here or on its way when the lovely Spring Snowflake: Leucojum vernum blooms.

Leucojum is Greek for white violet. It is supposed to have a slight violet fragrance but I have never detected it.

The flowers look a bit like fat, bell-shaped snowdrops at first glance. They make me think of pure, white Tiffany lampshades. Each flower has six tepals edged in green. A tepal is the word you use when you can’t tell if it is a petal or a sepal. Snowdrops have tepals too but as Galanthophiles know they have three long and three short tepals rather than equal sized ones like those of the Leucojum.

You can get Leucojums edged with yellow rather than green. The name for the yellow-edged ones is Leucojum vernum var. carpathicum. I foolishly planted mine close to the green ones. The resulting children as you see on the photo are neither green nor yellow- edged but something in between.

If you want your Leucojums with two heads to a stem then Leucojum vernum  var.  Wagneri is the one to look out for. I haven’t tried these because I think one head is enough per stem.

These lovely snowflakes are about the same height as snowdrops and they have green strap-like leaves. They soon clump up and they seed around too. Despite the name ‘vernum’ which means spring, they start flowering in winter. Confusingly the tall snowflake: Leucojum aestivum starts flowering in spring although aestivum means ‘summer’. This has similar shaped white flowers but is a much bigger plant. It grows well in boggy ground and in my garden spreads rather more than I’d like it to. It is not as eye-catching as Leucojum vernum because their is so much more foliage. Pauline at:  LeaduptheGardenpath shows us some  Leucojum aestivum which are coming out now on  a recent post.

I like to grow Leucojum vernum with the purple leaved Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea.

On a recent post called ‘Serendipity’ Alain at RocheFleurieGarden  said how he enjoyed accidental plant combinations which are often even better than the ones we devise. I was delighted with the way this Euphorbia put itself in the middle of a little primrose. Or did the primrose put itself in the middle of the Euphorbia? I am not sure but I like the effect. 


I love this purple leaved Euphorbia with snowdrops, snowflakes and primroses.

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23 Responses to Leucojum vernum

  1. Alison says:

    Leucojum is one late winter bulb that I don’t have. I just bought a few pots of double snowdrops yesterday, and I bought some brightly colored primroses to go with them. Primroses are such common flowers, but they’re so cheerful and they brighten things up when we need it most. I also like the way the Euphorbia has invaded the primrose, although it may make cutting back difficult.

  2. rusty duck says:

    I’ve never grown it either, but saw some at Rosemoor last Saturday. The tall one I think. Would have taken a photo but it would have meant getting down in the mud.. wimps we are!

    • Chloris says:

      Your trip to Rosemoor looked wonderful. It’s not worth getting in the mud for a photo. The tall ones like damp ground, so it was probably Leucojum aestivum.
      But if you come across the little ones they are really pretty.

  3. AnnetteM says:

    I love the Leucojum with the purple Euphorbia. Will have to try that. I have a summer Leucojum, Gravetye Giant, which I bought at Edinburgh botanical gardens quite a few years ago now. It actually flowers late spring rather than summer but it is still lovely. It hasn’t spread very much though unfortunately.

  4. pbmgarden says:

    This was very informative. I planted a few Leucojum last fall but don’t think they made it.

  5. Cathy says:

    You are right about the combination in the last picture – and thanks for giving us more info on the vernum/aestivum confusion too. I think I may have both but will need to root around and see if they are labelled.

  6. Very nice! Mine are still very dormant. Depending on who you talk to another Leucojum that is nice is the Leucojum autumnalis it is also known as Acis autumnalis. Whatever the name it is a nice one to check out too. Lovely as always!

  7. Flighty says:

    A lovely flower, but I can’t recollect when I last saw any snowflakes! xx

  8. That is a lovely spring flower, one that I don’t see in gardens around here. Clearly it is underused!

    • Chloris says:

      It is gorgeous, I should be interested to hear whether it is available over there. I can’t think why it should’ t be. It is well worth looking out for.

  9. I tried some bulbs of Leucojum vernum several years ago,but I’m afraid they didn’t amount to anything! Isn’t it interesting and often surprising the unexpected effects you can get from emerging shoots?

  10. Chloris says:

    I am sorry to hear you had no success with Leucojum vernum. It is so pretty.
    Yes I love this time of year with so much emerging. So many nice plump buds everywhere.

  11. Caro says:

    What a lovely informative post, Chloris – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your detailed account of the differences and now know what to look out for! I was looking at Leucojum plants today at the garden centre and wondering about getting a few for one of the borders I’m slowly building up in the community gardens here. Could be a good investment if they seed around a bit, all the plant purchases come out of my pocket but I do it because I like to see the gardens looking nice. The euphorbia/primrose combo works very well – I noticed today that some Galium odorata has done the same thing around a purple heuchera, lots of little green stars (later with white flowers) around plum coloured leaves, lovely! Will photograph for my blog when it all comes together!

  12. Chloris says:

    Thank you for your comment Caro and for visiting my blog. My Leucojums seem to like a shady position in a soil that doesn’t dry out.
    The Heuchera /Galium combination sounds lovely, I shall look out for your photos.

  13. Holleygarden says:

    I love leucojums, but didn’t realize there were so many different ones. Mine were just starting to bloom when they got zapped by a cold snap. 😦 Yours look beautiful with the fern in the background.

  14. Chloris says:

    Sorry to hear about your cold weather going on like this when it’s supposed to be spring. The little Leucojum vernum blooms in winter and stands frosty conditions quite well. Perhaps yours is the bigger Leucojum aestivum.

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