snowdrop


Значение термина snowdrop в knolik


snowdrop - SNOWDROP (Galanthus nivalis)
snowdrop - Very particular people are apt to insist that the Snowdrop is not a true-born native of Britain, and though they are probably right, yet this "Fair Maid of February" is now quite at home here, and it seems impossible to class it longer among the aliens. When growing wild it is generally found in old churchyards, orchards, thickets or places where man has probably once lived, and it is likely that the monks of the late Middle Ages, on their frequent transits to and from Rome, brought it here from its home in Central and Southern Europe, and planted it in the gardens of monasteries and churches. Gerard, writing in Queen Elizabeth's reign, says of the Snowdrop, "These plants doe grow wilde in Italy and the places adjacent, notwithstanding our London gardens have taken possession of them these manie yeares past."

To the monks and priests it was particularly dear, for it was always taken as the emblem of the Purification and the special flower of the Virgin. Tradition even said it was found in the Temple at the Presentation. This festival is kept on February 2nd - Candlemas Day - when medieval ritual took down the statues of the Virgin Mary from her altars and strewed Snowdrops over the vacant spot, and in the processions in the churches young girls walked robed in white and carrying Snowdrops. To this custom the flower probably owes its name of "Fair Maid of February."

A beautiful legend tells how, after the Fall of Man, the snow was falling, covering the earth with a white pall. Eve was weeping bitterly, for in the barrenness outside the Garden all was desolate, no flowers grew, and hope seemed dead. Then an angel came to comfort her, and caught a flake of the driving snow, breathed on it, and bade it bloom as an earnest that hope still lived and summer and flowers would come again. So the Snowdrop was born and is, to this day, the emblem of consolation and hope.

When we come to look into the personal affairs of the Snowdrop we find that a complete plant consists of one single flower, two leaves, a brown bulb, and some rootlets. The bulb is the stem set round with fleshy leaves containing much plant nourishment, and all enclosed in a scaly cover. Each year it throws off tiny bulbs which grow during the year to the size of their parent. If we attempt to dig up a piece of ground where Snowdrops freely grow, we discover that the earth is so thickly set with bulbs that the spade can hardly get between them, for there are as many bulbs as flowers, and half as many bulbs as leaves.

Therefore this single flower of the plant is precious. (Perhaps the reason that the Snowdrop is propagated by its bulb rather than by its seeds is the difficulty of relying upon a single flower.) While it is in bud it stands upright among the leaves, but as it opens it gradually droops its head, and thus the interior is protected from the inclement weather it is bound to face during its life of many days, the actual duration of life varying according to circumstances, as we shall see later. It is built up in threes. There are no sepals in the ordinary sense of the word, but their place is taken by three outstanding pure white floral leaves. Three smaller white leaves, forming a bell, alternate with them. These petals are marked by green lines, and it is chiefly in these green portions that one must look for the honey. The stamens are six in number, their anthers are pressed together, forming a cone; each anther is itself cone-shaped, and opens near its tip on the inside by two little pores. From the very tip a stiff little spine projects. This is a special feature. The ovary is rounded below but flattened on top. It contains three chambers and a number of seeds. From the platform on top a central column rises.

Now poets and writers of the picturesque have taken it into their heads that "the Snowdrop is a nun," that it is "celibate from birth," and so forth, but the truth is the Snowdrop desires, and needs too, fertilisation as much as any other flower, and arranges for it. It carries honey and exhales a certain perfume, and is specially adapted to hive bees. Sometimes, but not always, for the weather may be too severe, a bee comes on a sunshiny noon; she hovers over the drooping flower, then clasps one of the outermost petals with her fore-legs. As the unstable foothold swings under her weight, she clasps the opposite petal with her hind-legs. She is now upside down beneath the flower, and with her proboscis commences to probe for honey, especially along white lines that run the length of the inner side of the outspreading petals. If the flower has but just opened the sticky top of the column from the ovary projects beyond the cone of anthers, and the bee is certain to rub on it the first thing she does. If she has come pollen-dusty from another flower, she now fertilises the one she is visiting. But as she moves about the flower she is also bound to jar the spikes that project from the stamen tips and well shake the stamens themselves. Then out pours the pollen from the pores at the tips on to her legs and the under part of her body, and, since each pollen grain has a furrow on it, it keeps attached to the hairs. Her visit ended, the bee loosens her clasp and flies away, to perform the same routine in another Snowdrop. Finally, when she returns to the hive she carries back honey for storage and pollen for bee-bread, and incidentally has acted as intermediary between many flowers.

But, as already said, the weather may be wholly against visitors, and if so, after waiting during a lengthened period of flowering, the stamens become relaxed and, therefore, so widely open that the least vibration shakes the flowery pollen out of them like a yellow rain around the viscid ovary column, and hence a flower will fertilise itself in place of fertilisation from another. Thus we understand why Snowdrops wither so much more quickly in fine weather than in bad, for in the sunshine the bees come out and do the necessary fertilising quickly, and then there is no reason for the flower continuing to blossom. In bad weather there are no bees, and the flower holds on bravely as long as possible. The fruit of the Snowdrop is a dry capsule which opens by three valves for the seeds to escape.

When the flower fades then the two narrow leaves begin to grow. Hitherto they have been small, but now they double their length. This enables them to double their capacity for the manufacture of food stuffs. And they have plenty of work to do, for by the end of September the rudiments of the leaves and flowers for the following spring have been formed, and finally when they wither, a large store of starch will have been transferred from their tissues to the bulb for future use as food.

Although in autumn the whole plant is apparently quite ready for development early in the following spring, yet experience shows that no amount of forcing will make it fully develop its flower in every detail, even though the leaves and a blossom may be produced at once. But when the bulb has had some four months' rest then flowers and leaves grow up quite naturally at a temperature almost at freezing point.

The name "Snowdrop" is not an abbreviation for "a drop of snow," as is commonly thought; the suffix "drop" is rather used in the sense of a pendant. Ladies in the sixteenth century wore "drops" of various kinds., i.e. pendants, and the name seems to date from then. Its botanical name Galanthus signifies "milk-flower," and nivalis contains again a reference to the snow, its striking whiteness naturally supplying the keynote for its names.

An old English rhyme says,

"The Snowdrop in purest white arraie
First rears her hedde on Candlemass Day";

but a record of its "first appearance" shows that it may blossom as early as the middle of January. Cottage superstition asserts that a solitary Snowdrop is a death token; for, say the rustics, "It looks for all the world like a corpse in a shroud"; moreover, "it keeps so close to the earth, that it seems to belong more to the dead than to the living."


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