Colchicum autumnale, Meadow Saffron or

July 2, 2012 – 12:08 pm

Colchicum autumnale, Meadow Saffron or Autumn Crocus, Colchicaceae

Meadow saffron, sometimes known as autumn crocus, also has the rather salacious name of 'naked ladies' which supposedly stems from its lack of leaves when the flowers appear in autumn; the leaves sprout in spring and wither away in summer. The lilac flowers are very attractive to bees.This is a rare British native wild plant and most specimens that turn up – like those above, beside a road in Weardale – are garden escapes. ograph; when they’re cultivated in bare soil the floral tubes often grow very long and the flowers fall over in the autumn wind and rain, but some surrounding grass gives them support.
The plant has a long history of cultivation and in 1776 the botanist and doctor William Withering, writing in his Botanical Arrangement of all the Vegetables Growing in Great Britain mentioned that ‘cultivation produces a great variety of colours and makes the blossoms double’.


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"Saffron" crocus question

Years ago I bought autumn-flowering crocus and currently have many hundreds that bloom in late September-October. They're purple with the 3 stamen configuration.
Is there any way to know definitely if they're saffron crocus?
Now I pick, dry and use them as if they are saffron. They seem like saffron but how do I know for sure?

The trouble with "autumn crocus"

Is two-fold. There are many, many species of fall-blooming crocus, but only one of them is Crocus sativus (L). [However the stigmas of Crocus nudiflorus can be used in cooking like saffron.]
Secondly, the phrase "autumn crocus" is also applied to various colchicums, which are in the lily family (unlike the true crocuses, which are in the iris family), and which contains toxic substances, notably colchicine. Nobody here wants to read that a fellow foody got poisoned by ordering bulbs under an ambiguous name.
This is definitely a situation where use of the formal name "Crocus sativus" or the unmistakable English name "saffron crocus" is called for.


From shy maiden folds,
this, this orange treasure, pluckt:
sweet saffron delight!
(The domesticated saffron crocus is a delicate marvelous purple autumn-flowering perennial that has been so heavily bread that it is effectively sterile, producing no viable seeds. Its existence now depends on us humans. If some of you you wish to grow your own saffron, well: it can survive winter frosts as low as 14F, but only tolerates light snow cover, needs plenty of water when active, but summers should be relatively hot and dry

It's my opinion...

...based on stuff like this:
If there is any color that can symbolize connection to spirit, or
religiosity, it is saffron. For Hinduism, it's the color of Agni or fire,
which symbolizes the Supreme Being. The saffron color, also auspicious to
the Sikhs, the Buddhists and the Jains, seems to have obtained religious
significance much before these religions came into being, before written
words, before history. Before neon glaring lights and psychodelic fake
colors, there would be the powerful effect of the light, bright saffron,
in its natural realm.
Fire worship had its origin in the Vedic age

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