Galanthus rizehensis Stern
From: Davis (1999). Permission has been granted by the author.
G. rizehensis Stern, in Snowdr. & Snowfl.: 37, fig. 8 (p. 38) (1956).
BULB ± spherical to ovoid, or ellipsoid, 1.8–2.5(–3) x 0.6–1.5(–2.1) cm. SHEATH 5–8.5 x 0.5–0.7 cm. Vernation applanate. LEAVES ± linear to very narrowly oblanceolate (slightly broader in the middle to upper third), at flowering (4–)6.5–13(–16) x (0.3–)0.4–0.8(–1) cm, after flowering developing to 6.5–20(–33.5) x 0.4–1(–1.4) cm, erect or recurving to ± 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 slightly different in colour, upper surface medium- to darkish green, slightly shiny to matt, often with a faint glaucescent median stripe, lower surface lighter green, usually shiny. SCAPE 8–12 cm long, green. PEDICEL 16–34 mm long. OUTER PERIANTH segments narrowly obovate to ± elliptic, 15–22 x 6–10 mm, slightly unguiculate. INNER PERIANTH segments obovate to ± obtriangular, 8–10 x 4–6 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 ± half of the segment. ANTHERS tapering to a long point. CAPSULE ± spherical, 8–15 mm in diameter. SEEDS brown, c.5 mm long.
Flowers between January and April in nature; January and February in cultivation.
Notes: Sir Frederick Stern described G. rizehensis in Snowdrops and Snowflakes (1956), naming it after Rize, a town on the Black Sea coast of north-eastern Turkey. He tells us that G. rizehensis was first collected and introduced by E.K. Balls and W. Balfour-Gourlay in 1933. They discovered the plant near Trabzon in north-eastern Turkey, in a wood 400 or 500 feet (120 or 150 m) above sea level. According to an earlier paper by Stern and J.S.L. Gilmour (1946), G. rizehensis was also collected by E.K Balls in 1934, from Soguk Su near Trabzon, and by A. Baker who collected it near Rize, which is about 80 km east of Trabzon. Galanthus rizehensis was exhibited in 1934 at the spring show of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) by G.P. Baker, under the provisional name of G. latifolius var. rizehensis; and again at an RHS show in 1935, by W. Balfour-Gourlay. Stern cultivated G. rizehensis at his garden at Highdown, Sussex, presumably from stock of the original collections.
Galanthus rizehensis looks similar to G. lagodechianus: both species have applanate vernation, linear green leaves, and a single mark at the apex of each inner perianth segment. There are, however, a number of important differences between the two species, which are summarized in the discussion of G. lagodechianus (see above).
When Stern described G. rizehensis it was known only from two localities in north-eastern Turkey, but further field studies and collections have shown that it extends into western Georgia, southern Russia and other parts of north-eastern Turkey. Like G. woronowii, G. rizehensis occurs predominantly in the eastern Black Sea Coast region. It is found in the humid, high-rainfall forests of the Pontus Mountains (north-eastern Turkey) and the western Transcaucasus, which form a distinct zone of vegetation around the Black Sea. Within this zone, and sometimes just outside it, G. rizehensis also occurs growing in coastal woodland almost at sea level, or up to roughly 70 km from the sea, reaching about 1,200 m. It is not found in the drier regions of the eastern Anatolian plateau or in the Caucasus proper. In its habitat and ecology G. rizehensis is similar to G. woronowii, and these two species are sometimes found growing in close proximity.
Galanthus rizehensis is mostly found in mixed broad-leaved forest, including those of oak (Quercus spp.), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus, C. orientalis), and beech (Fagus orientalis); but it can also occur at the edges of coniferous forest, for example with oriental spruce (Picea orientalis). It occurs in woodlands with box (Buxus sempervirens), hazel (Corylus avellana), cornelian cherry (Cornus mas), and sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa). It is frequently encountered in shady gorges, at the base of cliffs and large rocks, and near rivers and streams. These situations provide shade and moisture, which are particularly important on the drier southern slopes of the Pontus mountains. Galanthus rizehensis has been found growing with hellebores (Helleborus orientalis), butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus, R. ponticus), cyclamen (Cyclamen coum), and scilla (Scilla spp.). It is found on a variety of soils, including those covering sand, volcanic and metamorphic rocks (including schist), and limestone.
Galanthus rizehensis is reasonably well established in cultivation, and can be obtained from snowdrop nurseries and firms specializing in bulbous plants. Most of the plants currently being grown in gardens probably originate from those grown by Sir Frederick Stern in his garden at Highdown, Sussex, which were introduced from north-eastern Turkey by E.K. Balls, W. Balfour-Gourlay, and A. Baker. Amongst this stock there are some good garden plants, which are usually free-flowering, robust and disease-free. The larger variants of G. rizehensis, such as those from Georgia and southern Russia, are scarce in cultivation, which is unfortunate as some of them are potentially excellent subjects for the garden. Galanthus rizehensis is a worthy garden plant, and not at all difficult to grow. When happy it will quite quickly form an attractive clump, and may produce a fair amount of viable seed, depending on the clone.
W. Georgia, S. Russia, N.E. Turkey.