The Snowdon Lily is Britain’s rarest plant and is found in only five locations; all of which are in Snowdonia. An ice age relic, the plant’s survival is threatened by climate change and there are believed to be less than 100 bulbs remaining. The Lily’s future is now so acute that plans are being considered to introduce the plant to sites in Scotland before it becomes extinct from our shores.
The plant is much smaller than it appears on photographs – growing to around 12cm in height. The flower has white, cup-shaped flowers with six petals borne at the end of long stalks. The petals are veined with red or mauve and the flower rests on a nest of wiry leaves. This latter characteristic giving rise to one of its earlier common names: the Spiderwort. The flower blooms in late May to early July and for the rest of the year the Lily is unlikely to be distinguishable from other flora and fauna. The Welsh name for the plant is ‘brwynddail y mynydd’ which means the rush leaved mountain plant.
The flower favours a sheltered position on a north- or north-east facing crag and can be found quite high-up on inaccessible ledges and rock faces away from grazing animals. You are likely to need full climbing-kit if you are tempted to search this rare plant out.
Reports suggest it can be found on some of Wales’ best winter climbing cliffs: Devil’s Kitchen cliffs, Clogwyn Du, Black Ladders, Cloggy and Clogwyn y Garnedd (Trinity Face of Snowdon). If you are lucky enough to come across a Snowdon Lily, then by all means take a few photographs, but don’t be tempted to pick any part of the plant as it is protected by law and needs as much help as it can get.