Galanthus nivalis L. Amaryllidaceae Snowdrop. Hardy, bulbous herb. Distribution: Europe. A chemical, galantamine, is sourced principally from the Caucasian snowdrop, Galanthus woronowii but is present in our ‘English’ snowdrop and related genera. It is a competitive, reversible, acetylcholinesterase inhibitor so increases brain acetylcholine, a chemical of great importance in cerebral function. As such it has been recommended for ameliorating the symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, but not for mild cognitive impairment as in US clinical trials there was an increased mortality. Johnson (Gerard, 1633) calls it the bulbous violet, Viola theophrasti.
Credit: Dr Henry Oakeley.