Colchicum autumnale, the Autumn Crocus, is also known
as Meadow Saffron, and the source of a narcotic
poison. This attractive little plant is a native
of Europe, and is common in Britain.
It produces its bright purple cup-shaped flowers,
similar in form to the crocus but unrelated, naked
from the earth to a height of six to nine inches
in autumn. The large lance-shaped leaves appear
in spring and summer long after the flowers have
Colchicum bornmuelleri, a plant from Asia Minor, has
pretty flowers of rosy lilac during the same season,
and Colchicum speciosum produces flowers varying from
clear rose to deep crimson-purple, each with a
white throat. There is also a rare white-flowered
form. Colchicums grow well in a rich, moist soil
that is well drained.
Naturalised in shrubberies, and at the front of
herbaceous borders companioned with the dwarf
blue Michaelmas Daisies,
they are effective. Plant not later than August.
Propagation is by separating the corms as soon
as the leaves have died down in July.
The flowering season is from August to October.
See Also: Colchicum