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Crocus sativus is often confused with:
Colchicum autumnale Colchicum autumnale
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Allium hollandicum Form
Allium Alllium
Canna Flower

Saffron Crocus sativus

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Crocus autumnalis
  • Crocus officinalis
  • Crocus sativus var. officinalis
Description

Saffron is a species of crocus that is grown for its prized stamens.  This expensive and labor-intensive spice is used to dye fabricbut mostly to flavor foods. It is unknown in the wild and is a product of 3500 years of selective breeding by several different civilizations. This short plant has purple to lavender flowers that appear in fall for a 1-2 week period when the saffron spice can be collected. Each corm produces several flowers. The leaves are narrow and grass-like and appear shortly before flowering.

The corms should be planted 4 inches apart and 4 inches deep in well-drained soil with moderate levels of organic matter in full sun. The corms will multiply each year and can be divided to produce more plants. Plant in borders, walkways, rock gardens or in mass plantings. To harvest the saffron remove the bright red stigmas and use fresh or dry and store in air-tight containers for later use.

American saffron actually refers to safflower, Carthamus tinctorius, whose flower heads yield a dye used as an adulterant to true saffron

Problems: Subject to fungal disease if the blooming period coincides with a wet period or root rot if planted in a wet location. Squirrels, mice and other rodents may eat the corms.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bulb#showy flowers#small spaces#fall flowers#perennial#perennial bulb#purple flowers#mass planting#herbaceous perennial#borders#walkways#herb#spice#edible spice#saffron
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bulb#showy flowers#small spaces#fall flowers#perennial#perennial bulb#purple flowers#mass planting#herbaceous perennial#borders#walkways#herb#spice#edible spice#saffron
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Crocus
    Species:
    sativus
    Family:
    Iridaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Has been used medicinally by several cultures
    Life Cycle:
    Bulb
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 0 ft. 10 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 2 in. - 0 ft. 4 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Bulb
    Edible
    Herb
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Description:
    No fruit, flowers are sterile.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Flower Shape:
    Saucer
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Flower Description:
    Each flower has six purple to lavender lily-like petals with three long style branches tipped with reddish-orange protruding stigmas. Flowers close at night. The blooming season is short, perhaps 14 days in the fall. The flowers are sterile.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    5-11 linear upright green leaves up to 16 inches long appear from the corm prior to blooming.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Small Space
    Walkways
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting