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Acis autumnalis (Leucojum autumnale)

September 8, 2022
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Acis autumnalis (Leucojum autumnale)

Acis autumnalis is a little gem among autumn-flowering bulbs. If you are looking for big and blowsy this is definitely not for you. But if you believe that ‘small is beautiful’, as many, perhaps most alpine and rock gardeners do, then read on.

The thread-like but wiry flower stems carrying tiny elfin bells of glistening white begin to appear in late July or early August in the UK. The almost equally flimsy looking but wind resistant foliage accompanies them. Individual flowers are good for 2-3 weeks, but on a well established clump there will be a continuous succession well into September. Once the performance is over the plant conveniently dies down. So the spot needs to be marked to avoid digging up the dormant bulbs by mistake.

Acis autumnalis, a member of the daffodil family (Amaryllidaceae), is native to rocky places and vegetation clearings throughout the Iberian Peninsula, on the Mediterranean fringes of North Africa, and in Gibraltar.



Acis autumnalis is a very easy dwarf bulb to grow in the open garden throughout the UK. It is hardy down to at least  -6C (26F). This species is not fussy as to soil type, being tolerant of lime and of prolonged periods of drought when dormant. If you are able, place it in an elevated position, perhaps on the top of a raised bed. This allows its beauty to be appreciated at close quarters.


If Acis autumnalis (Leucojum autumnale) sets viable seed, then I have never been aware of it. But when a plant produces bulblets as freely as this does, it really does not matter. You can gently tease them away from the edge of an established clump at any time during dormancy. Or, you can dig a clump up, separate the bulbs and replant where required. Don’t plant too deeply, the neck of the bulb should be just below the soil surface.


Author: John Good

John Good