know that crocus like flower Colchicum autumnale is exremely poisonous?
Colchicum autumnale is most commonly known as autumn
in various regions it is known as naked-ladies, colchicum, and meadow
saffron. It should be noted that it's not a crocus, and it's not
saffron, and should definitely not be used in place of saffron in
cooking because eating any part of this plant can kill you.
Colchicum autumnale is native to Europe but has been introduced to
Canada and the U.S., where it is both grown in gardens and lives as a
wild escapee in meadows and woodlands. It's a perennial herb in the
lily family (Liliaceae) which grows from a corm
(a solid bulb)
that can unfortunately be mistaken for a wild onion. The rapierlike
leaves grow about a foot high, and in the early fall one or two
leafless stalks sprout from the corm; each stalk produces a single
white-to-purplish-pink flower that resembles a crocus.
of the colchicum look just like crocus, except that they have six
stamens while the crocus have only three. The distinction is important.
While we are accustomed to thinking of crocus as spring flowers, many
varieties also bloom in the fall, at about the time the colchicum are
The extreme toxicity of this plant has been known since the
times of ancient Greece, but in the fifth century, herbalists in
the Byzantine Empire discovered it could be used to treat
rheumatism and arthritis,
and the Arabs began to use it for gout.
The useful active ingredient in the plant is an alkaloid
which is still used to treat gout
and which has anticancer properties.
Poisoning from this plant resembles arsenic
symptoms (which occur 2 to 5 hours after the plant has been eaten)
include burning in the mouth and throat, diarrhea, stomach pain,
vomiting, and kidney failure. Death from respiratory failure often
follows. Less than than two grams of the seeds is enough to kill a
child; a specific antidote doesn't exist, so treatment typically
involves giving the victim activated
charcoal or pumping the stomach.
This beautiful but very poisonous plant grows in moisty
and woods. However there are many culitvated virieties if you like to
grow it. Colchicum autumnale is sometimes mistakenly called autumn
crocus. However, never purchase a plant called autumn crocus without verifying
that its botanical name is Colchicum autumnale. There is another plant
commonly called autumn crocus (Crocus sativus the saffron crocus) that the animals love to
every part of Colchicum autumnale is poisonous, you never have to
worry about it being eaten.
The corms should be planted about three or four inches deep in
partial shade. The amazing thing is
how quickly both they and the colchicum do bloom. Any plants that go
into the ground as little corms and jump up in flower three weeks. It' s really
exciting. In the early spring
this plant produces leaves that are somewhat similar to hosta leaves.
However, the leaves disappear after several weeks. The plant doesnít
reappear until the fall, when crocus like flowers on short stems shoot
out of the ground. Being a member of the Lilaceae family, the flowers
look like exotic water lilies.