Like all members of the genus Chionodoxa, the bases of the stamens are flattened and closely clustered in the middle of the flower. In the related genus Scilla, the stamens are not flattened or clustered together. The differences are not considered by some botanists as sufficient to create a separate genus, so they include this species in Scilla.
C. forbesii resembles C. siehei, which is regarded as part of the same species by some botanists. For those who differentiate the two taxa, C. forbesii differs by having fewer, smaller upward-facing flowers, which are a deep blue, rather than violet-blue.