HAPPY new year everyone! I hope you have had a chance to get outdoors in search of the fantastic wildlife we have right here in Bolton.

This winter we have seen some terrible weather and it looks likely to continue into the near future, but for me, this winter has been a fairly autumnal affair so far.

Because of this, several species may well be appearing much sooner than they normally would, and this week’s species is no exception.

The snowdrop is one of the earliest-flowering bulb plants in our country. Growing in clumps right across forest floors and open fields, the hanging white flowers are a common sight in January.

Growing at this time of year means that the snowdrop can take full advantage of the winter sun, with no leafy trees blocking out rays of light in the canopy above.

But there are disadvantages to flowering in January.

The usual cold conditions can be deadly for weak leaves and the freezing temperatures are keeping most pollinating insects in hibernation. Without the insects, the snowdrop must rely on alternative methods of reproduction.

Underground is where the magic happens. Because the snowdrop is a bulb-plant, it is able to clone itself through bulb-division.

Over time, whole woods can be filled with the white flowers through this method and explains why they grow in bunches.

So when you next spot a snowdrop, take a moment to observe this beautiful plant a little more closely, as there’s so much more going on just beneath the surface!

n Find out more about the snowdrop at our website’s blog naturetalksandwalks.co.uk QUESTION: How does the snowdrop grow through the snow?