Meadow Saffron Seeds (Autumn crocus)
Price for Package of 10 seeds.
Colchicum autumnale, commonly known as autumn crocus, meadow saffron or naked ladies, is an autumn-blooming flowering plant that resembles the true crocuses, but is a member of the Colchicaceae plant family, unlike the true crocuses which belong to the Iridaceae family. The name "naked ladies" comes from the fact that the flowers emerge from the ground long after the leaves have died back. Despite the vernacular name of "meadow saffron", this plant is not the source of saffron, which is obtained from the saffron crocus, Crocus sativus – and that plant too is sometimes called "autumn crocus".
The species is commonly cultivated as an ornamental in temperate areas, in spite of its toxicity.
It is a perennial herb with leaves up to 25 cm (10 in) long. The flowers are solitary, 4–7 cm (2–3 in) across, with six tepals and six stamens. The ovary is below ground.
Colchicum autumnale is the only species of its family native to the Great Britain and Ireland, with notable populations under the stewardship of the County Wildlife Trusts. It also occurs across mainland Europe from Portugal to Ukraine, and is reportedly naturalized in Denmark, Sweden, European Russia, the Baltic states and New Zealand.
The bulb-like corms of Colchicum autumnale contain colchicine, a useful drug with a narrow therapeutic index. Colchicine is approved by the US FDA for the treatment of gout and familial Mediterranean fever. Colchicine is also used in plant breeding to produce polyploid strains.