Galanthus (snowdrop; Greek gála "milk", ánthos "flower") is a small genus of about 20 species of bulbous perennial herbaceous plants in the family Amaryllidaceae. The plants have two linear leaves and a single small white drooping bell shaped flower with six petal-like (petaloid) tepals in two circles (whorls). The smaller inner petals have green markings.
Snowdrops have been known since the earliest times under various names but were named Galanthus in 1753. As the number of recognised species increased various attempts were made to divide the species into subgroups, usually on the basis of the pattern of the emerging leaves (vernation). In the era of molecular phylogenetics this characteristic has been shown to be unreliable and now seven moleculary defined clades are recognised corresponding to the biogeographical distribution of species. New species continue to be discovered.
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