Leucojum is a genus of only two species in the family Amaryllidaceae – Leucojum vernum and Leucojum aestivum, both native to Eurasia.
These bulbous perennials have grass-like foliage and pendulous, white and bell-shaped flowers, which are marked on all six petal tips with green or yellow-green marks. They are small, but very pretty and fragrant!
The genus name is derived from the Greek words “leukos”, meaning “white” and “ion”, which means “violet”, referring to the color and possibly fragrance of the flowers.
The common name “Snowflakes” refers to the white flowers of this plant. Though its name suggests otherwise, Snowflakes bloom in spring and summer.
Snowflakes symbolize purity and hope.
Interesting facts about Leucojum
Differences Between Leucojum vernum and Leucojum aestivum
In general, Leucojum vernum is smaller and blooms earlier than Leucojum aestivum.
Leucojum vernum (Spring Snowflake) is a perennial plant that produces green, linear leaves and white, bell-shaped flowers with green edge. The plant grows between 15 and 25 cm (6 to 10 inches) in height and blooms in early spring.
Leucojum aestivum (Summer Snowflake or Loddon Lily,) is a perennial plant that bears shiny green, narrow, linear leaves and white or rarely pink bell-shaped flowers with green dots.
This plant reaches a height between 35 and 60 cm (1 to 2 ft) tall and blooms in late spring and early summer.
Leucojum and Related Genera
Leucojum is most closely related to the genera Acis and Galanthus (Snowdrops).
The genus Acis was lumped into Leucojum for more than a century, only to be returned to genus status in 2004. Leucojum and Acis, both commonly known as Snowflakes, are very similar in appearance with some differences. The Acis species prefer drier soils than Leucojum species. They have flowers without markings, narrow leaves and solid scapes, while Leucojum has white flowers with green or yellow marks, wider leaves and hollow scapes. Leucojum species are distributed widely across Europe, while Acis species are restricted to a small area of the Mediterranean.
Leucojum and Galanthus (Snowdrops) are similar too, but there are also some differences. The six tepals (petals and sepals that are similar) of Leucojum flowers are all of equal length, and all have green tips, while Galanthus has three inner tepals that are shorter and broader than the three outer tepals.
Leucojum Plant Data
Snowflakes have white flowers with faint green tips.
Leucojum grows up to 60 cm (2 ft) high.
These plants are not fussy about soil type, but they bloom best in a soil that is rich, moist and well-drained.