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COLCHICUM cilicicum 'Purpureum'

Image of Colchicum cilicicum 'Purpureum'

Russell Stafford

Family

Liliaceae

Botanical Name

COLCHICUM cilicicum 'Purpureum'

Plant Common Name

Autumn Crocus

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Rounded petals of a violet-fuchsia greet the waning days of summer on the 'Purpureum' selection of Colchicum cilicicum. The common name is misleading, though the flowers of this hardy "bulb" do superficially resemble crocuses, colchicums are not related to the genus Crocus.

Hailing from Turkey southward to Syria and Lebanon, this species of autumn crocus grows from plump corms (condensed underground stems) with papery tunics. In spring, these send up decorative small lance-shaped green leaves, which provide nourishment to the corm before withering and disappearing by summer. The flowers of 'Purpureum' arise in very late summer and early fall, absent leaves. The long floral tubes are usually white and the petals (tepals) are fuschis with strong hints of violet surrounding a cluster of small orange stamens. Bees flock to the flowers to store up pollen for winter.

The corms of autumn crocus are usually available for a short period in late summer, when they should be planted in a site with full to partial sun and fertile, humus-rich soil. Plant them in evergreen groundcovers such as ivy, creeping juniper, or Asiatic jasmine, which provide interest when the colchicums are dormant (and also help prop up the flowers). Colchicums also do and look well in meadows and lawns, or clumped in shrub borders.

This fascinating and beautiful plant is certain to brighten any garden. Its color is welcome in a season when the palette tends towards the yellows, oranges and blues of the fall asters and mums. It is lovely planted under the branches of early-flowering sasanqua camellias.

There are health concerns associated with this plant; to learn more go to http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/Colchau.htm

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    6 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Bulb or Corm or Tuber

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    3"-4" / 7.6cm - 10.2cm

  • Width

    3"-5" / 7.6cm - 12.7cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Fall

  • Native To

    Mediterranean, Turkey

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Fuchsia, Violet

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Alpine, Container, Foundation, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No