A perennial flowering plant of the family Liliaceae and genus Muscari. Some species include:
Grape hyacinths are recognized by their 3" to 10" stalk surrounded by small purple or blue bell-shaped flowers. I've heard of white grape hyacinths, but I've never seen them. The flowers are are arranged in 6 vertical rows, like most similar lilies. Describing the flowers as "bell-shaped" is a half-truth. It can often seem as if each flower has no opening, appearing more like a balloon than a bell. For a visual aid, think of the universal veil of most mushrooms.
Their foliage consists of a few small grassy fronds, which compose the only visible part of the plant during autumn. The foliage, along with the stalk and flowers decay during the summer and winter.
Grape hyacinths belong to the family Liliaceae (the lily family), and are resistant to most diseases and pests, like their siblings. This combined with the tenacity of their structure and the grape hyacinths use of both a seed and bulb for redundancy, causes them to flourish.
Another notable feature of the grape hyacinth is their lenient requirements. They are prefer direct sunlight or light shade, but can get by in darker conditions. In addition, they can exist on most terrains, only requiring that the soil drains well.
Due to the grape hyacinth's ability to thrive, it is a common sight in most of the United States, especially the eastern and southern regions. Living in North Carolina, I've grown used to seeing a pattern each spring - the early crocus followed by grape hyacinths and hyacinths. It's how I know Spring is coming...
A grape hyacinth's smell is quite nice also. It's similar to a honeysuckle's but more musky and clean. Some say that they smell like a grape, but I'm not sure as to whether or not this is the origin of the name, or the shape of the flowers.