Saturday, October 27, 2018
Colchicum autumnale (Autumn crocus)
Colchicum autumnale, commonly known as autumn crocus, meadow saffron or naked ladies, is an autumn-blooming flowering plant that resembles the true crocuses, but is a member of the Colchicaceae plant family, unlike the true crocuses. In Russia it is called 'Timeless crocus'.
The bulb-like corms of Colchicum autumnale contain colchicine, a useful drug with a narrow therapeutic index. Colchicine is approved by the US FDA for the treatment of gout and familial Mediterranean fever.
Autumn crocus is an interesting plant. Its seed, bulb, and flower are used to make medicine. Autumn crocus is used for arthritis, gout, and an inherited disease.
All parts of the plant, but especially the bulb, are poisonous. They cause vomiting, serious inflammation of the stomach and bowels, and even death. Handling the corms can cause skin allergies in some people.
A Colchicum autumnale bulb is hardy to zone 5. The plant is in leaf from February to July, in flower from August to October, and the seeds ripen from April to June. It is pollinated by bees, flies.
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 18th century that the plant was discovered to be of value in the treatment of gout. Both the corm and the seeds are analgesic, anti-rheumatic.
Colchicum prefers a rich well-drained loam in a sunny position. Tolerates to partial shadow but dislikes dry soils, is hardy to about -20°c. The autumn crocus is easily grown in grass, among shrubs and by woodland edges. I grow it among tuyas.
Do you have Colchicum in your garden? Are you careful doing with it?
source: 'Plants For A Future'