pretty petals – colchicum

September 26, 2013

Welcome to week twenty-one of our column entitled Pretty Petals. Each week we will introduce you to a flower that we are working with here in the studio as well as flowers that we absolutely adore. Please join us every Thursday for some floral eye-candy where you will learn about a variety of very special blooms. This week Tina has an unusual delight growing proudly in her garden: the colchicum. Let’s have a look at this early fall beauty.

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If you are looking at the pictures below and thinking to yourself “Hmm, that flower sure looks a lot like a crocus” you will understand why the common name for the colchicum is the “autumn crocus”. One would assume that these flowers must be related. Although they look very similar, the crocus and the colchicum couldn’t be more different.

  • Crocuses are a member of the iris family and develop from corms, whereas the colchicum is related to the lily and grow from a bulb.
  • Crocuses have foliage and colchicum do not
  • Crocuses have 3 stamen and colchicum have 6
  • Crocuses have edible stamen (saffron) and the corms are sought after by wildlife for food; colchicums are very poisonous (all parts)
  • Colchicum bulbs are huge, crocus corms are tiny
  • Colchicum can be twice the height of a crocus growing up to 10”
  • The first colchicum was discovered in Georgia, USA. The crocus comes from the Netherlands

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It’s fun to have these bulbs blooming in the garden this time of year – as the warm days draw to a close and the cooler temperatures are just around the corner we can pretend that it is spring again! These beauties are best kept outside where the cooler weather will help them to last longer. And because of their toxicity, keeping them in their garden beds is probably a safe choice if you have small children or animals.