Colchicum autumnale Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron, PFAF Plant Database (2023)

Colchicum autumnale Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron, PFAF Plant Database (1)

Colchicum autumnale Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron, PFAF Plant Database (2)

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Bloom Color: Lavender, Pink, White. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Late summer, Mid fall. Form: Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

Colchicum autumnale Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron, PFAF Plant Database (3)Colchicum autumnale Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron, PFAF Plant Database (4)
Colchicum autumnale is a BULB growing to 0.2 m (0ft8in) by 0.2 m (0ft8in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf from February to July, in flower from August to October, and the seeds ripen from April to June. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies. The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness MapUS Hardiness Map



Woodland GardenSunny Edge;Dappled Shade;Lawn;Meadow;

Edible Uses

None known

ReferencesMore on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Though known since at least the time of the ancient Greeks, autumn crocus was considered too poisonous to use medicinally and it was not until research in the Eighteenth century that the plant was discovered to be of value in the treatment of gout[268]. In modern herbalism it is still used to relieve the pain and inflammation of acute gout and rheumatism, although frequent use has been known to encourage more frequent attacks of the complaint[232, 268]. Both the corm and the seeds are analgesic, antirheumatic, cathartic and emetic[4, 7, 13, 21, 235]. They are used mainly in the treatment of gouty and rheumatic complaints, usually accompanied with an alkaline diuretic[4]. Leukaemia has been successfully treated with autumn crocus, and the plant has also been used with some success to treat Bechet's syndrome, a chronic disease marked by recurring ulcers and leukaemia[254]. A very toxic plant, it should not be prescribed for pregnant women or patients with kidney disease, and should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[238]. See also the notes above on toxicity. The seeds are harvested in early summer, the corms in mid to late summer when the plant has fully died down. They are dried for later use[238]. The fresh bulb is used to make a homeopathic remedy[232]. It is used in the treatment of nausea, diarrhoea and rheumatism[232].

ReferencesMore on Medicinal Uses

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Colchicum autumnale Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron, PFAF Plant Database (5)

Other Uses

Plant breeding

The poisonous alkaloid 'colchicine' is extracted from this plant and used to alter the genetic make-up of plants in an attempt to find new, improved varieties[9, 13, 19, 46, 100, 171]. It works by doubling the chromosome number[89].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife

ReferencesMore on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Alpine garden, Border, Foundation, Massing, Rock garden, Specimen. Prefers a rich well-drained loam in a sunny position[1, 188]. Tolerates partial shade but dislikes dry soils[1]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.5 to 7.5. Plants are hardy to about -20°c[200]. The dormant bulbs are fairly hardy and will withstand soil temperatures down to at least -5°c[214]. The autumn crocus is easily grown in grass[90] and can be naturalized there[200]. It also grows well amongst shrubs and by woodland edges[28]. Plant the corms about 7 - 10cm deep in July[1]. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233], though slugs may attack the corms[238]. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies[201]. Special Features:Not North American native, Naturalizing, Suitable for cut flowers.

ReferencesCarbon Farming Information andCarbon Sequestration Information

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Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in early summer in a seed bed or a cold frame[1, 164]. Germination can be very slow, taking up to 18 months at 15°c[164]. It is best to sow the seed thinly so that it is not necessary to transplant the seedlings for their first year of growth. Apply a liquid fertilizer during their first summer, however, to ensure they get sufficient nourishment. Prick out the seedlings once they are dormant, putting perhaps 2 plants per pot, and grow them on in a greenhouse or frame for at least a couple of years. Plant them out into their permanent positions when they are dormant[K]. The seedlings take 4 - 5 years to reach flowering size[1]. Division of the bulbs in June/July when the leaves have died down[1]. Larger bulbs can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up the smaller bulbs and grow them on in a cold frame for a year before planting them out. The plant can be divided every other year if a quick increase is required[1].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Colchicum autumnale Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron, PFAF Plant Database (7)

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Colchicum bivonaeBulb0.2 5-9 MNM001
Colchicum luteumBulb0.1 6-9 MNM022

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.

Colchicum autumnale Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron, PFAF Plant Database (8)

Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Muhammad Saleem ChTue Oct 5 11:02:17 2004

Dear Sirs,

Briefly our company is pioneer in collection, processing and commercial export of wild grown natural Medicinal Herbs, Plants & Seeds .

Would you be interested in following raw material collected from fields & forests of Himalia, Karakuram and Hindukush ranges:-

Botanical Name: English Name:

Alfalfa Alfalfa

Ephedra procera Ephedra

Carum Carvi Caraway Seeds

Colchicum luteum Golden collyrium

Hippophae rhamnoides Seabuckthorn Berries, Plup & Seeds

Natural crop is the best and richest source of oil as well other by-products.

Free samples, CFR rates and further details are available on hearing interest with complete postal address.

Best regards, M. Saleem ChMunawar Industrial Enterprises, H-807, Akbari Mandi, Lahore - PakistanPhone: 0092-42-7672379, 7653532 E-mail:, Web:

Link: Munawar Industrial Enterprises, Re: Colchicum

Robert HoustonSun Jun 24 2007

Can you please recommend a bulb supplier for Colchicum autumnale? Thanks.Sincerely, candocrew @

ErdemFri Apr 25 2008

hi I check the family of colchicum autumnale, which is colchicaceae. The one I learned is Liliaceae, I wonder which one is correct. Could you guys return me? Please

RajamanickamMon Sep 7 2009

Please let me know the natural distribution / growing of Colchicum autumnale abundantly in the globe.

ravindraMon Oct 12 2009

its really good and more than sufficent info

Fri Jan 22 2010

Colchicum autumnale is used in medicine, for gout and Familial Meditaranian Fever. Medically it is very valuable

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What is the difference between saffron crocus and Colchicum? ›

Flowers: The flowers of Colchicum are typically larger than those of Crocus and each corm produces 5 to 10 stalks each bearing a single flower. These showy blooms grab your attention from across the garden. Crocus blooms are daintier with fewer blooms per corm, but have lovely detail when viewed up close.

What is Colchicum autumnale used for? ›

Nowadays, in addition to relieving inflammation in acute gout attacks, it is used to treat other inflammatory disorders including Behçet's syndrome and the hereditary fever syndrome familial Mediterranean fever.

Why is autumn crocus poisonous? ›

Background. The common garden plant autumn crocus contains colchicine and its derivatives. Colchicine poisoning causes abdominal cramps and diarrhea within hours. Several days later, multiorgan failure, pancytopenia, and cardiovascular collapse occur.

Is meadow saffron the same as saffron? ›

Saffron is harvested from the saffron crocus, scientific name Crocus sativus. This is a different plant entirely from the autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale), also known somewhat confusingly as meadow saffron.

What is the most expensive spice crocus? ›

Saffron is often referred to as “red gold,” and for good reason—it's the world's most expensive spice, retailing for anywhere from $10 to $20 for a gram of the real stuff.

What is the rarest type of saffron? ›

Super negin refers to the darker red portion of the negin and encompasses the sargol; it is the priciest and rarest type of saffron.

Can you touch autumn crocus? ›

All parts of autumn crocus are highly toxic.

While no direct poisoning is expected from pure contact, wear gloves anyway to be on the safe side and avoid mouth contact.

Can you eat autumn crocus? ›

It is poisonous, and can cause burning of the mouth and throat, vomiting, diarrhea, liver and kidney problems, blood disorders, nerve problems, shock, organ failure, and death. There have been reports of poisoning when autumn crocus was mistaken for onions, wild garlic, or wild leeks and eaten.

What is meadow saffron used for? ›

Both the corm and the seeds are analgesic, antirheumatic, cathartic and emetic[4, 7, 13, 21, 235]. They are used mainly in the treatment of gouty and rheumatic complaints, usually accompanied with an alkaline diuretic[4].

What is the rarest crocus? ›

Rarest and New

biflorus, or Scotch crocus, has outer petals of light violet and silvery-white centers with a lilac blush. These diminutive sprites bloom early and naturalize well where happy.

What is the difference between colchicum and autumn crocus? ›

Autumn crocuses are sometimes confused with Colchicum autumnale. Colchicums are similar in overall appearance but have larger flowers and much larger clusters of leaves that appear in spring and dieback by late summer.

What drug comes from crocuses? ›

Colchicine is one of the oldest remedies still in use today. It is derived from the bulb-like corms of the Colchicum autumnale plant, also known as autumn crocus.

Is McCormick saffron real saffron? ›

Saffron is prized for its golden yellow color, rich flavor and aroma. McCormick sources saffron from Spain for its superior quality – there are more than 250 hand-picked strands per bottle!

Which is the purest saffron in the world? ›

While the myths arouse discord, there's one item of consensus: Kashmiri saffron is the sweetest, most precious spice in the world. Its strands are thicker and more fragrant than its counterpart from Iran, which accounts for more than 90 percent of the world's saffron production.

What is poor mans saffron? ›

The marigold aka the poor man's saffron. They can be used as a substitute for saffron due to its. hue and flavor. The flowers can be used as a garnish, but they are also great in salads as they have a citrus.

How many flowers for 1 pound saffron? ›

Each autumn, crocus flowers produce three stigma, that's right only three. This means it takes about 80,000 flowers to produce just one pound of saffron. A labor of love, all of these stigmas are picked, processed, and cleaned by hand.

How many crocuses does it take to make an ounce of saffron? ›

The saffron must be harvested—by hand! —in the mid-morning, when the flowers are still closed in order to protect the delicate stigmas inside. It takes about 1,000 flowers to produce just one ounce of saffron.

Does saffron expire? ›

Saffron does not expire, but it does have a shelf life. Like other spices, it loses its strong aroma and flavour as it ages and doesn't get preserved. This priceless spice gets harmed by direct light, oxygen, dampness, and heat. With only a little exposure, your Saffron will quickly lose its optimum freshness.

What is the top selling saffron? ›

Best Saffron Brands In India
Best Saffron Brands In IndiaPrice
Rasayanam Pure Original Kashmiri SaffronRs 421.20
UPAKARMA Pure SaffronRs 359
Roseate SaffronRs 499
Kapiva Kashmiri KesarRs 391
5 more rows
Apr 12, 2023

How can you tell the difference between real saffron and fake saffron? ›

Appearance – Saffron threads are trumpet-shaped. If a thread does not bulge at one end, it's a fake. If you rub real saffron between your fingers, your skin will turn yellow/orange. Taste – While saffron smells sweet, it tastes slightly bitter, not sweet.

Do I leave crocus bulbs in the ground? ›

Do I need to dig up my bulbs or can I leave them in the ground? Spring-blooming bulbs that are winter hardy, such as tulips, daffodils and crocus, can be left right in the ground. Summer bulbs such as dahlias, tuberous begonias and calla lilies, will not survive cold winters.

What is the difference between crocus and autumn crocus? ›

The Key Differences Between Spring and Fall Crocuses

Spring crocuses bloomers typically thrive in zones three and higher. One of the key differences between the two, however, comes down to toxicity: Autumn-blooming crocus varieties are poisonous due to their corms, which produce a compound called colchicine.

Does autumn crocus smell like garlic? ›

Autumn crocus has the following characteristics: Grows in primarily in meadows, rarely in forests. Flowers: Crocus-like flowers, usually violet, bloom late summer to autumn. Odour: No smell of garlic, leaves have neutral smell.

Do all autumn crocus produce saffron? ›

Not all crocuses produce this delicious spice. You can only harvest saffron from the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus). Because this crocus variety blooms in the fall, it's often mistaken for the autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale). Both plants bloom in the fall, are grown from corms and have similar colors.

Is autumn crocus poisonous to dogs? ›

The Autumn Crocus is highly toxic and can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory failure. If you're not sure what plant it is, bring your pet to their veterinarian immediately for care. Signs may be seen immediately but can be delayed for days.

Are autumn crocus toxic to animals? ›

All parts of the plant are considered poisonous to animals and pets should be kept from areas in which Autumn crocus are planted.

Is saffron good for COVID? ›

Principally, saffron's essential oils and other constituents appear to exhibit both immunomodulatory and anti-asthmatic actions. Saffron has been considered an immune-boosting component, which may be useful in patients with COVID-19 and a weak immune system [41].

What does saffron do for depression? ›

More specifically, a saffron extract might inhibit serotonin reuptake in synapses. Inhibiting synaptic serotonin reuptake keeps serotonin in the brain longer, thereby enhancing its positive effects while combating depression.

Why is saffron worth so much? ›

Since such a small part of the flower is used, it takes 75,000 saffron flowers to make one pound of saffron spice. The small amount of saffron spice per plant, along with the fact that harvesting must be done manually, leads to saffron's being majorly expensive.

Do crocus return every year? ›

Crocus plants will multiply and come back year after year, bringing more blooms with them each time.

What is the easiest crocus to grow? ›

'Zwanenburg Bronze' (Crocus chrysanthus 'Zwanenburg Bronze')

'Zwanenburg Bronze' is one of the easiest crocuses varieties to grow, and it naturalizes very easily.

Do crocus bulbs multiply each year? ›

Crocus flowers come in Easter-egg colors of purple, yellow, lavender, cream and white. Over time, these carefree bulbs will naturalize and multiply to produce more flowers every year.

What is the most hardy crocus? ›

Crocus sieberi (Sieber's Crocus)

Vigorous, Crocus sieberi is a late winter-flowering crocus producing its charming flowers as the snow melts. Regarded by some as one of the most attractive crocuses, it is very hardy and ridiculously easy to grow, making long-lived clumps.

Is saffron crocus poisonous? ›

All parts of autumn crocuses are poisonous, the greatest concentrations of toxic alkaloids occurring in the flowers and seeds. The corm is also toxic containing 0.05% alkaloids, in contrast to 0.2% in the seeds.

Do deer eat autumn crocus? ›

Perhaps the most well-known of the early bulbs that peek up while snow still blankets the ground, crocus are generally left alone by deer, although they are not truly deer-proof. When food is in very short supply, deer might eat crocus foliage. Rabbits and squirrels, however, will quite happily dig up the bulbs.

Can saffron cause serotonin syndrome? ›

Saffron reduced depression in patients in several clinical trials similar to taking SSRIs. Studies in rats suggest that saffron interacts with the serotonin system, so it could potentially influence serotonin syndrome [73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78].

Why is crocus so expensive? ›

The process is so delicate and time consuming that it requires 80,000 crocus flowers to produce just one pound of saffron. These flowers must be grown, cared for and hand harvested to prevent damaging the flowers during the autumn season when the flowers bloom.

Can we eat crocus? ›

A crocus is the flower produced from corms, or commonly crocus bulbs. Saffron is a rare and popular spice, made from the dried flower stigmas of the specific Crocus Sativus variety. Which crocus is edible? Crocus Sativus, also known as autumn crocus or saffron crocus, is the only variety that produces an edible part.

Which brand saffron is most expensive? ›

A kilo of Kashmiri saffron can reportedly cost up to INR 3 lakhs. Question: What is the most expensive spice in the world? Answer: Kashmiri saffron is considered to be one of the most expensive spice in the world.

Which is the best saffron in the world online? ›

Mongra is the best quality of saffron. At Kashmirica, we only sell the Kashmiri Mongra form of Saffron which has a beautiful aroma and an attractive red color. In our opinion, Kashmiri Mongra is the best saffron in the world.

What is the best grade of saffron? ›

1) Grade 1 or A+ or All Red: All Red saffron that contains stigmas only. This is 100% Premium saffron. The highest quality of the saffron threads is referred to as "Negin". Negin translated means "The Diamond on a Ring".

Is saffron more rare than gold? ›

Saffron is the rarest, most expensive food on earth—more valuable than caviar, truffles, premium vanilla beans, real Japanese wasabi, and any other luxury food you can think of. There have been periods in history when saffron, by weight, was even more expensive than gold!

Why is Spanish saffron so cheap? ›

Large equipment such as tractors and rigs are used for cultivation, which can significantly stack up the production saffron price. In addition, Spanish saffron production happens on very low levels and It is only enough for their domestic use. On the other hand, in Iran, farmers cultivate saffron in small farms.

Is saffron worth more than gold? ›

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. Produced from the stigma of the autumn flowering purple crocus (Crocus sativus), it has at points in history been worth three times the price of gold. Like all rare and valuable commodities, saffron has a history rich with legend.

Who should avoid saffron? ›

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use saffron. Interactions. When used as a supplement, saffron may cause problems for people on blood pressure medicine or blood thinners. Check with your doctor before using it if you are taking medication.

Does saffron increase testosterone? ›

Saffron is rich in vitamin C and selenium, both of which help in improving the quality of sperm. The spice has been known to benefit in the problem of premature ejaculation as it increases the level of Testosterone in the body.

What color saffron is best? ›

The best saffron should be a deep red with orange/yellow tips.

Is Colchicum a crocus? ›

Colchicum are more commonly known as autumn crocuses as they look so similar to spring crocuses. However, they're in fact part of the lily family and are not related to the familiar crocus at all.

What is another name for saffron crocus? ›

Crocus sativus, commonly known as saffron crocus or autumn crocus, is a species of flowering plant in the iris family Iridaceae.

What are other names for Colchicum? ›

Colchicum autumnale, commonly called autumn crocus or meadow saffron, is a cormous perennial that typically blooms in early fall.

What is the difference between Colchicum and autumn crocus? ›

Autumn crocuses are sometimes confused with Colchicum autumnale. Colchicums are similar in overall appearance but have larger flowers and much larger clusters of leaves that appear in spring and dieback by late summer.

Does Colchicum like shade or sun? ›

Colchicum prefers full to part sun (shade in hot summer areas), and rich, well-drained soil.

How deep do you plant autumn crocus? ›

Plant the waxy, irregular corms covered in a dark-brown, leathery skin in well-drained soil about 6 inches apart. The corms are quite large and should be planted 3-6 inches deep.

Can you grow saffron in the US? ›

Farmers in the US have been growing the saffron crocus since the 17th century when the Pennsylvania Dutch first brought these little bulbs to the US. It's possible to farm this spice here if labor costs permit. Grown in a raised bed garden or containers, this plant can fit anywhere!

Which is the best saffron in the world? ›

Kashmiri saffron is highly regarded for its quality and is often considered among the finest in the world. Kashmiri saffron, also known as Kashmiri Kesar or Kashmir Saffron, is highly regarded for its exceptional quality and is considered among the finest saffron varieties in the world.

What drug is in Colchicum seed? ›

Plants in this genus contain toxic amounts of the alkaloid colchicine which is used pharmaceutically to treat gout and Familial Mediterranean fever. The use of the roots and seeds in traditional medicine is thought to have arisen due to the presence of this drug. Its leaves, corm and seeds are poisonous.

Is Colchicum annual or perennial? ›

Colchicum (Colchicum byzantinum) also known as Autumn Crocus is a bulbous perennial. They come from the Liliaceae family.

What is Colchicum in English? ›

Colchicum autumnale, commonly known as autumn crocus, meadow saffron, or naked ladies, is a toxic autumn-blooming flowering plant that resembles the true crocuses, but is a member of the plant family Colchicaceae, unlike the true crocuses, which belong to the family Iridaceae.


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