From: Davis (1999). Permission has been granted by the author.
G. angustifolius Koss, in Bot. Mater. Gerb. Inst. Kom. a Akad. Nauk SSSR 14: 134, fig. 3 (1951). G. nivalis L. subsp. angustifolius (Koss) Artjush.
BULB ± ovoid to spherical, 1–2 x 0.7–1 cm. SHEATH 2.7–3.5 x 0.4–0.6 cm. Vernation applanate. LEAVES linear to very narrowly oblanceolate (very slightly broader in the middle to upper third), at flowering (3.5–)5.5–8(–11) x (0.2–)0.3–0.5 cm, after flowering developing to 8–16 x (0.2–)0.3–0.7 cm, usually erect at maturity, and often curved outwards; midrib conspicuous; margins flat; apex acute to acute-obtuse, flat to hooded; surfaces smooth; upper and lower surfaces ± the same colour, glaucous (grey to blue-grey), matt. SCAPE 7–14 cm long, glaucescent to glaucous. PEDICEL 18–30 mm long. OUTER PERIANTH segments obovate to narrowly obovate, or ± elliptic, 10–20(–23) x 4–7 mm, slightly unguiculate. INNER PERIANTH segments obovate to oblanceolate or ± obtriangular, 7–10 x 4–5 mm, each segment with a sinus and an apical ± V-shaped green mark; inner face of each segment with a faint green mark covering half or ± the entire segment. ANTHERS tapering to a long point. CAPSULE ± spherical, 5–10 mm in diameter. SEEDS pale brown, c.4 mm long.
Flowers between March and May.
Notes:Galanthus angustifolius is probably the least well known of all snowdrop species. It was described by J.I. Koss in 1951, from the Russian Republic of Karbardino-Balcaria, in the northern Caucasus. The name angustifolius means ‘narrow-leaved’ in Latin, a very appropriate name for a species with leaves just 2–5 mm wide. This species has applanate vernation, glaucous leaves, and a single mark at the apex of each inner perianth segment. The only other species like G. angustifolius is G. cilicicus, but the latter flowers in the autumn, has broader leaves, and occurs in southern Turkey.
Galanthus angustifolius seems to be a rare plant in the wild, and occurs only in the northern Caucasus, in southern Russia. It grows in mixed deciduous woodlands. of beech (Fagus orientalis, F. sylvatica), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus, C. orientalis), ash (Fraxinus spp.) and maple (Acer spp.). It may also occur in scrub, for example with hazel (Corylus avellana), and has been recorded growing with arum (Arum maculatum), scilla (Scilla spp.), Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum spp.), and corydalis (Corydalis spp.). It grows in deep heavy loam, which may contain quite a high percentage of clay particles, and humus-rich soils. Galanthus angustifolius is a species of the low- to mid-montane zone, between 700 and 1,000 m.
Galanthus angustifolius should not be confused with plants sometimes grown in gardens under the same name, or as G. nivalis var. angustifolius, which are in fact variants of G. nivalis with narrow leaves. These narrow-leaved variants of G. nivalis have glaucescent leaves approximately 5 mm wide. True G. angustifolius seldom produces large clumps, and has glaucous leaves that are 2–5 mm wide. The false G. angustifolius also tend to form quite large, tight clumps, which can be shy-flowering. In the wild and in cultivation, G. angustifolius usually forms clumps of no more than five to ten individuals. Close inspection of the impostor’s flower shows that it has the typical inner perianth mark of G. nivalis, and not the simple U- or V-shaped green mark of the real G. angustifolius.
Galanthus angustifolius is an extremely rare plant in European gardens, and is probably not in cultivation in the British Isles. If it did come into cultivation, it would probably do well in situations where G. alpinus, G. lagodechianus, and perhaps G. woronowii grow successfully. In its native habitat, G. angustifolius experiences much colder winters than most parts of the British Isles, and so is almost certain to be hardy here.