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COLCHICUM speciosum

Image of Colchicum speciosum

TL

Family

Liliaceae

Botanical Name

COLCHICUM speciosum

Plant Common Name

Giant Meadow Saffron

General Description

One of the largest and showiest colchicums, this perennial from uplands of southwestern Asia bears its lilac-purple, white-eyed blooms in late summer. Although sometimes called "autumn crocus," it is not related to the genus Crocus, which is in the iris family.

This plant produces large broad strap-shaped leaves in spring, which gather energy for the underground bulb-like storage organ, known as a corm. After the leaves wither in late spring, the corm quietly waits until late summer to send up one to several goblet-shaped flowers poised on stalk-like floral tubes. A central cluster of yellow anthers is highlighted against the white throat. The flowers waft a faint fruity perfume. The corms will bloom whether or not they're planted. They may double or even triple in number each year, eventually forming a large clump that provides a spectacular fall show.

Colchicums do best in full to partial sun and deep, moist, fertile, well-drained soil. The corms are often planted under low groundcovers like creeping juniper or ivy, which provide a green background and support the blossoms during wind and rainfall. Particularly glorious when planted in masses, this lovely perennial is perfect for bringing new life to the late-season perennial garden or shrub planting. Purchase the corms in mid- to late summer, so they can be planted before they bloom. Cultivars include the hauntingly beautiful, white-flowered 'Album'; and 'Ordu,' a hardy selection with narrow "petals."

All parts of Colchicum contain the potent alkaloid colchicine; see http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/Colchau.htm

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    5 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    2a, 2b, 3a, 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

    5"-7" / 12.7cm - 17.8cm

  • Bloom Time

    Late Summer, Early Fall

  • Native To

    Turkey, Iran, Western Asia

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

    White, Purple, Pink, Light Pink, Lavender

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • 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

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Cutflower, Feature Plant, Foundation, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No