Was in hospital, now back home
Woodland native that's good in the garden

Snowdrops invasive?

Snowdrops naturalized in Pennsylvania: 2009. Image ©GardenPhotos.comBrits may think it a little strange for me to be writing about snowdrops in the last week of April but, here in Pennsylvania, we still have flowers on ours. And recently, for my first solo excursion in the car since my hospital stay, I went to take a look at some snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) growing in the woods a few miles away. I suspect that the site is that of an old homestead - itself long gone.

Of course, snowdrops are not native here in North America; in fact, many enthusiasts for native plants describe them as alien invasives and spend a great deal of effort removing what they describe “infestations” or spraying them with weed killer. Japanese knotweed – OK, fair enough; but snowdrops?

So it was interesting to revisit these local snowdrops, which I last looked at five years ago (above left, click to enlarge), and to see how few there now are (below right, cick to enlarge)– there are probably about 10% of the number there were when I first came across them. Snowdrops naturalized in Pennsylvania: 2014. Image ©GardenPhotos.comAnd this is a factor that’s rarely monitored here in North America where the demand for instant removal of any plant that’s not native rings so loud: while non-native plants may establish themselves in wild communities and start to spread, they may also then decline and fade away.

And anyway: snowdrops are not exactly known for their capacity to smother other plants, in the wild or in the garden. In Britain, where they’re also not native, snowdrops are enjoyed and appreciated in the wild as delightful and harmless early season flowers. In the US, they’re eradicated.

Comments

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Layanee

I can't wait for my snowdrops and scilla to naturalize. I want rivers and ponds of them.They are spreading and, as you say, they are not smothering other plants. This year both scilla and snowdrops bloomed quite late due to snow cover and they made some bees very happy. I think some suffer from plant hysteria. Moderation and common sense are two of the basic keys to a happy life. I have found common sense to be 'not so common' anymore.

Donna

I agree with both you and Layanee. I would love them en mass and have no problem with them being non-naive. One of the first plants of the season for native bees, I am sure the bees don't care native or non-native. I too was a PA gardener - where I am native!!! Maybe NY should send me packing.

Susan

I found myself wondering if it was invasive plant removal or someone just adding to their private snowdrop collection!

Martha

Ah, silliness among plant lovers is just so, well, silly. My spring is spent pulling out seedlings of redbud trees - hundreds of them.

The snowdrops on the other hand increase their clump size slowly but only if they like the place they are planted. They are never my gardening problem!

Graham Rice

Yes, I agree with everyone. As you'll have gathered from my post it seems to me that treating snowdrops like illegal immigrants to be quickly removed is just crazy. And Donna is right, they're good for early bees when almost no other flowers of any kind are open. Bees were certainly foraging in what remains of the Pennsylvania patch that I took a look at. Of course, some non-natives - kudzu, Japanese knotweed etc - are highly destructive. But snowdrops?

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