AppearanceGalanthus elwesii is often confused with G. gracilis, as both of these species have glaucous leaves and two green marks (or one very large green mark) on each inner perianth segment, and they can occur in similar localities and populations. Galanthus gracilis and G. elwesii are closely related, but they can be easily distinguished from one another by the type of vernation (the position of the leaves when they are in bud), which is applanate (leaves flat against each other) and supervolute (one leaf encircling the other), respectively. Other distinguishing characteristics, which are reliable but not totally discrete for each species, are the width of the leaves and the general dimensions of the plant: G. gracilis usually has narrow leaves and is generally of smaller dimensions than G. elwesii. The leaves of G. gracilis are frequently twisted but they can also be straight. Molecular data (Lledo et al. 2004, Larsen et al. 2010) infers that these two species are distinct.
NamingOther common names
Galanthus graecus Orph. ex Boiss.
Chianthemum elwesii (Hook.f.) Kuntze
Galanthus nivalis L. subspecies elwesii (Hook.f.) Gottl.
DistributionThe natural range of Galanthus elwesii extends from Asia Minor to the Aegean Islands, Balkan mountains and northwestern part of the Black Sea shore. In the eastern part of its range, this species is rarer than in the western part. In Romania, it is known from only one locality in the Dobrodgea upland. In Moldova, it also known from one locality only in Gagausia, Komratsky district. There are reported to be 13 localities of Galanthus elwesii in the Ukraine, found in the Bessarabia upland and near the Black Sea lowland, Odeska and Mykolaivska regions, although these populations require full verification (i.e. to ascertain whether they are G. gracilis or G. elwesii).
Bulgaria; Greece (East Aegean Is., Greece (mainland)); Moldova; Romania; Serbia (Serbia); Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia); Ukraine
Netherlands; United Kingdom (Great Britain)
StatusIn Serbia, this species is assessed as Vulnerable (V. Stevanović pers. comm. 2010). In Bulgaria, it is widespread in most of the regions of the country but not common. At some localities there are only a few individuals. Population trend seems to be decreasing in many areas. In the Ukraine, the population parameters differ depending on the habitat. In oak forests, population density reaches 160 individuals/m², whereas in ravine forests (bairak forests) it has an average of 65 individuals/m², in shrub communities there are 60-140 individuals/m², and in steppe communities 40-50 individuals/m² (Melnyk et al. 2007).
Many populations are severely fragmented, as they only occur in rather narrow ecological niches.
HabitatGalanthus elwesii is a late winter- to spring-flowering snowdrop of woods, scrub and rocky meadows (Morgan and Leon 1992). It occurs in a variety of habitats: forest (Quercus sp., Fagus sp., Pinus sp., etc.), scrub (Quercus coccifera, Pteridium aquilinum), and in forest clearings, subalpine pastures, and amongst rocks, at altitudes from 100 to 1,300 m but most commonly at 800 to 1,000 m.
In the Ukraine, it grows in deciduous forests in the steppe zone: in oak forests (Quercus robur) in river valleys, in bairak forests of Alno-Ulmion alliance, in shrub communities of the Prunion stepposae and the Festuco-Brometaeae class. In Moldova, it grows in oak (Quercus robur and Quercus pubescens) and hornbeam (Carpinus orientalis), and in shrubland.
UsesCollection for decorative use in flower bunches, part lethal removal and non-lethal removal. Used as a medicinal plant (whole plant). There is sustainable harvesting of bulbs in large numbers (millions) in Turkey.
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