No, we’d never heard of it either but it turns out that ‘galanthomania’ means ‘obsession with snowdrops’. Love a good new word!
We thought that they were pretty little flowers that are the first to appear after the winter and generally make us feel happy about the approach of spring. (Sorry if you are reading this somewhere still under feet of snow.) But it turns out that some people are far more passionate about them and comparisons have been made with ‘tulip mania’ in Holland in the 1630s, when tulip bulbs changed hands for vast amounts of money leading to the first recorded economic bubble.
In 2012 a seed company, Thomson and Morgan, paid £725 for one specimen snowdrop bulb. And this month a lady in the UK paid £1,602 to name a new snowdrop variety. At Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire, plants are kept in alarm-protected greenhouses and given security guards when they are displayed in flower. It’s not easy to get into the snowdrop business though – they are covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (Cites) and that means that a licence is needed to sell a single bulb. Snowdrops are native to continental Europe but they are also very popular in the US, where bulb prices are driven up further by all the paperwork needed to import the bulbs.
On balance, snowdrops are probably not going to provide a sure-fire get-rich-quick scheme after all. But they do look good and now we have the challenge of dropping ‘galanthomania’ casually into a conversation!