Gemma (wychylips) wrote in urbandiary,

Snowdrops and Winter Aconite

Went on a little adventure yesterday to Hedingham Castle near Colchester, Essex where they have a Snowdrop fest at the weekends during the winter months.

Saw some of my first snowdrops this year with an added bonus! Winter Aconite which I've never seen before!

What a bleak cold day! But the very pretty and delicate snowdrops lightly scattered around were worth it. You can tell why they are called snowdrops from a distance as they really do look like patches of snow left behind on the ground during a de-thaw.
I also found out that Snowdrops are related to the daffodil family which I didn't know!

We also saw some other yellow buds amongst the snowdrops but no one knew what they were as they hadn't opened yet.
I did some research and they are called 'Eranthis' a member of the butter cup family I think. Their common name is 'Winter Aconite' as they were once confused with the wolfsbane family. They are posionous (as are all buttercups) and have in history been mistaken for other herbs, including horseradish where a lady made them into a sauce in Cheshire and died from consuming it! (these ones are quite lethal and one of the most posionous off all garden plants)

Some of us were pondering regarding snowdrops and how they reproduce apart from self division:

I found out that the flowers are hung bell like as they are adapted for bees after all! (in the winter though?)
Some of the green leaves around the petals have little grooves that secrete a honey-like substance.
The stigma is touched first by the insect which is probing for necter. It then shakes the stamens and gets covered in pollen and then the bee does it's job and spreads the pollen.

I really enjoyed the experience and can't wait to see my first daffodilly.
Green Park has a wonderful display of daffs during the spring and I loved sitting amongst them during sunny, warm lunchtimes when I was working near there last year. Something really uplifting about the scent and colour variations!

Watch this space....
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