Flower of the Day Challenge: The Snowdrop

How does the Snowdrop survive in cold conditions that would kill other plants?

Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) look so fragile and delicate don’t they? Yet they are among our toughest and most resourceful of flowers. Here are four amazing facts about snowflakes.

For a start, the tips of their leaves are especially hardened for breaking through frozen ground.

Secondly, their sap contains a form of anti-freeze. Called anti-freeze proteins (AFPs), they bind to water and prevent them from turning to ice.

Thirdly, the snowdrop has moving petals! When the outside temperature is above 10oC (50oF), the outer segments of the flower move upwards and outwards so that the flower is more accessible to pollinating insects. Below this temperature, the flowers point downwards, protecting the plant from falling snow. This phenomenon is called thermotropism.

Fourth is a strategy for getting their seeds planted. After flowering, the snowdrop stem collapses and seed pods develop, which lie on the surface of the soil. Each seed has a small oil- and protein-rich appendage called an elastiome, which ants find attractive. The ants take the seeds into their nests and feed the elastiome to their larvae, but the seeds themselves remain untouched. But of course, they have been planted by the ants in the soil – to  germinate the following Spring!

Snowdrops in Jodoigne, Belgium

The ingenious Snowdrop is my submission for Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s