Look Up to See the Snowdrops

On the face of it this would be bad advice since snowdrops are low growing plants that appear in early spring with delicate white flowers. If the weather is unkind they will often poke up through the snow bringing promise of the season to come. But I discovered recently that there is a tree which bears similar shaped flowers and is known in some parts as the snowdrop tree. Its latin name is Halesia carolina and is more commonly called Carolina silverbell.

Halesia carolina the snowdrop tree
According to Wikipedia:

It is a vigorous, fast-growing deciduous shrub or tree growing to 8 m (26 ft) tall by 10 m (33 ft) broad, bearing masses of pendent, bell-shaped white flowers which appear in spring before the leaves. The flowers are followed by green, four-winged fruit. The leaves turn yellow in autumn.”

Halesia carolia the tree in bloom

“The range of little silverbells is very restricted. It is principally in the panhandle of Florida, with isolated smaller outlier populations in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi. In the cited reference, this species is referred to as Halesia parviflora.[4] The “champion” Halesia carolina on the 2015 American Forests Champion Trees national register is quite removed from its natural range, being situated in Roxbury, New Hampshire.

The tree can also be cultivated in the United Kingdom. H. carolina Vestita Group has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. The tree blooms in late spring and early summer so after enjoying the snowdrops poking up through the snow you can look up for a repeat performance a little later in the year.