Galanthus lagodechianus Kem.-Nath.

General description: 

From: Davis (1999). Permission has been granted by the author.

G. lagodechianus Kem.-Nath., in Zametki Sist. Geogr. Rast. 13: 6 (1947).
G. cabardensis Koss.
G. kemulariae Kuth.
G. ketzkhovelii Kem.-Nath.

BULB ± spherical to ovoid, 1–2.5(–3) x 1.3–2.9(–3) cm. SHEATH 3–7 x 0.5–0.7 cm. Vernation applanate. LEAVES ± linear to very narrowly linear-lanceolate (slightly broader in the middle to lower third), at flowering 7.5–18 x 0.5–1(–1.2) cm, after flowering developing to 15–35(–45) x 0.6–1.1(–1.5) cm, semi-erect to recurving or ± prostrate at maturity; midrib conspicuous; margins flat or subrevolute, particularly near the base of the leaf; apex acute, flat; surfaces smooth; upper and lower surfaces ± the same colour or slightly different, upper surface medium- to dark green, shiny, infrequently matt, without a faint glaucescent median stripe, lower surface slightly lighter green, usually shiny. SCAPE 3.5–20(–30) cm long, green. PEDICEL 10–30(–35) mm long. OUTER PERIANTH segments narrowly obovate to ± elliptic, 15–27(–30) x 10–16 mm, slightly unguiculate. INNER PERIANTH segments obovate to ± obtriangular, 8–10(–12) x 3–6 mm, each segment with a sinus and an apical ± U- to V-shaped green mark; inner face of each segment with a faint green mark similar to the mark on the outer face, or larger and covering up to half of the segment. ANTHERS tapering to a long point. CAPSULE ± spherical to ellipsoid, 10–15(–20) mm in diameter. SEEDS brown, c.5 mm long.

Flowers between January and April in nature; February and March in cultivation.

Notes: The Georgian botanist L.M. Kemularia-Nathadze described  G. lagodechianus in 1947. The epithet lagodechianus means ‘from Lagodekhi’, which is a nature and forest reserve in eastern Georgia, in the southern central Caucasus. The first really accessible information on this species, at least for those not able to read Russian, was published by Artjushenko (1966b) in the Daffodil and Tulip Year Book, in an article based on an earlier scientific paper (Artjushenko 1965). There is no mention of it in Stern’s monograph Snowdrops and Snowflakes (1956).

Galanthus lagodechianus was probably introduced into cultivation in the British Isles during the 1960s and 1970s, probably via the botanical gardens at the Komarov Institute, St. Petersburg. At the same time G. ketzkhovelii, G. kemulariae, and G. cabardensis were also introduced, but these are now considered to be synonyms of G. lagodechianus. Over the last 20 to 30 years plants bearing these names have been sold by specialist bulb nurseries and grown in gardens of the British Isles. Since the first introductions of G. lagodechianus there have been several reintroductions and it is now quite well known in cultivation, and long-established in some gardens. It is certainly hardy, and easily able to withstand winter in the British Isles.

Galanthus lagodechianus is characterized by applanate vernation, narrow green leaves, and a single apical green mark on each inner perianth segment. Galanthus rizehensis also possesses this combination of morphological characters, and the two species seem to be closely allied. They differ, however, in leaf coloration, inner perianth mark, chromosome number, flowering time in cultivation, ecology and distribution. The leaves of G. lagodechianus are usually medium- to dark green and shiny; those of G. rizehensis are medium- to darkish green but usually matt, and have a faint glaucescent stripe running down the middle of the leaf. The flowers of G. lagodechianus have a narrow V-shaped green mark at the apex of each inner perianth segment, whereas G. rizehensis usually has a U-shaped mark. This character is not definitive, however, and the marks of the two species can be quite similar. The chromosome number of G. lagodechianus is 2n = 72, whereas G. rizehensis is 2n = 24 or 36. In cultivation G. rizehensis usually finishes flowering two weeks or more before G. lagodechianus starts to bloom.

Galanthus lagodechianus is found in the subalpine to alpine zone, from 1,800 to 2,400 m, whereas G. rizehensis is predominantly a species of lowland forest, occurring at altitudes of between 25 and 1,100 m. Galanthus lagodechianus occurs in the central and eastern Caucasus (Georgia and southern Russia), and in Armenia, Azerbeijan, and possibly northern Iran. It does not occur in the western Caucasus, and thus some distance separates G. lagodechianus from populations of G. rizehensis, which occurs around the eastern part of the Black Sea coast.

Galanthus lagodechianus is predominantly found in mixed deciduous forest, for example with hornbeam (Carpinus orientalis), beech (Fagus orientalis), Turkish hazel (Corylus colurna), oak (Quercus spp.), oriental plane (Platanus orientalis), ash (Fraxinus spp.), and elm (Ulmus spp.). It may also occur in scrub with common elder (Sambucus nigra), dwarf elder (Sambucus ebulus), medlar (Mespilus germanica), blackberry (Rubus spp.), and ivy (Hedera helix).

Galanthus lagodechianus is one of the last species of snowdrop to bloom, often flowering, in the British Isles, at the end of February or the beginning of March. It can be a charming snowdrop, and well worth the effort it may take to find good material.

The strange snowdrop cultivar ‘Anglesey Abbey’, which originated in the gardens at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridge, has been attributed to G. lagodechianus (e.g. Nutt 1993), but is instead a form of G. nivalis.


Armenia, Azerbeijan, E. Georgia, S. Russia, and possibly N. Iran.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith