Wild Flowers - Autumn Snowflake - Acis autumnalis

Autumn Snowflake - Acis autumnalis ©Tony Hall
Autumn Snowflake - Acis autumnalis

Acis autumnalIs

This beautiful little perennial was formally named Leucojum autumnale. With the very apt common name of the Autumn Snowflake.

It is a small bulbous plant in the daffodil family, (Amaryllidaceae)growing to around 10-20cm tall, with a long solid slender, wiry stem usually darkening reddish-brown towards the top. The attractive, pure white, nodding, bell-shaped flowers are tinged pink at their base and have 6 tepals, with the outer tepals 3-toothed at their tips. Flowers are borne in small clusters of stalked individuals, most commonly in twos, but there can be up to five on one stem. Leaves are thread-like and are produced after or at the end of flowering.

Acis autumnalis are fairly widespread throughout the Iberian Peninsula and grows in a wide range of habitats, from sandy and rocky soils to grassy banks and hillsides. They're easily spotted because of their brilliance, often growing in small groups, along with another autumn flowering bulb,the tiny purple or blue-flowered Prospero autumnalis, (otherwise known as Scilla autumnalis) the Autumn Squill.

They flower from September to November.

There is also the delicate spring flowering snowflake, Acis trichophyllum, which generally grows in larger groups, preferring sandy soils.

Tony Hall, Manager of the Arboretum and Gardens at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, specialising in the plants of Andalucía.