[Updated 4/5/13: leaves pic ]
Hiroko, do you know the Japanese name of this plant? 🙂
From Hiroko: Japanese name of Colchicum is イヌ – サフラン (inu-safuran). Safuran is transliteration for Saffron. There is no Japanese name in Chinese character for it since it is only phonetically translated. Inu is dog in Japanese, and it is often used as a prefix to describe for something similar but of lesser quality and useless. Therefore, Colchicum looks alike Saffron, but it is useless not like Saffron.
I saw it for the first time on a visit to Garden on September 17th, 2012, along the East Path; took a picture and posted it on the SJG Community Blog, asking readers if they know what this giant crocus-like flower is and Liz from Dartford, UK, answered:
The flowers are Colchicum, also known as Autumn Crocus (although not related to crocus at all).
From wikipedia: Colchicum (pron.: /ˈkɒltʃɨkəm/, including Androcymbium, Bulbocodium and Merendera) is a genus of perennial flowering plants containing around 160 species which grow from bulb-like corms. It is a member of the botanical family Colchicaceae, and is native to West Asia, Europe, parts of the Mediterranean coast, down the East African coast to South Africa and the Western Cape. In this genus the ovary of the flower is underground. As a consequence, the styles are extremely long in proportion, often more than 10 cm (4 in).
The common names “autumn crocus”, “meadow saffron” and “naked lady” may be applied to the whole genus or to many of its species; they refer to the “naked” crocus-like flowers which appear in late summer or autumn, long before the strap-like foliage which appears in spring.
Colchicum autumnale and its cultivars are widely grown in temperate regions. Several other species, such as C. speciosum, C. album, C. corsicum and C. agrippinum, are also grown for their flowers. […]