Colchicum autumnale • Autumn Crocus

[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).

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SJG • 9/17/12 – Colchicum • Autumn Crocus, along the E path,  Area I (close to the border with G)

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From wikipediaColchicum (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. […]

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SJG • 4/4/13 – Colchicum • Autumn Crocus, along the E path, Area I (close to the border with G) – the strap-like foliage DID appear in spring.

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4 Responses to Colchicum autumnale • Autumn Crocus

  1. maikawa1@comcast.net says:

    Hi Aleks,

    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 Suffron.

    Colchicum in my garden has strappy leaves now, and they will fade away and disappear in summer. In fall, out of nowhere, stalks of blooms appear without any foliage to cover, hence called ‘naked lady.’ I think I saw strappy green leaves of colchicum in Japanese Garden the other day.

    Will you be able to come to our meeting on Tuesday. Hope to see you there.

    Hiroko

  2. sjgbloom2012 says:

    Doumo arigatou gozaimasu, Hiroko! I copied part of your answer up in the post above, so people can see it without clicking on comments section – great explanation! i will try to capture the plant’s strappy green leaves next time in the Garden, but perhaps you can try to photo your plant’s leaves, too? it would be great to have both flowers and leaves pics here, especially that they appear so half a year apart!

    my tuesday schedule is still unresolved – i hope to come to the meeting, though.
    aleks

  3. William Pfeifer says:

    I have many fall blooming crocus or Colchicum that have become very crowded.They have just finished blooming– ( Sept.). When should they be dug and separated.

  4. sjgbloom2012 says:

    hi William! thank you for asking – i didn’t know the answer to your question (colchicum in our japanese garden seem NOT to be overcrowded, but then i have no clue about the gardeners’ work on them)… seems, like for the most bulbs, the best time to dig out and separate colchicum is when they are dormant in summer; also, apparently they are poisonous, so wear gloves! good luck! aleks. i read it here: http://www.rainyside.com/plant_gallery/bulbs/ColchicumWaterLily.html

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