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Colchium Autumnale

Sunday, September 18, 2016
by Sara Vega | Sustainability and Urban Agriculture Director

Colchium Autumnale

One can find the beautiful and meek fall crocus poking its head out of the soil in various locations throughout the world, and at Allen Centennial Garden, these showy blooms mostly reside in the conifer garden.

Colchium autumnale adds drama to whatever design it is incorporated into, making it imperative that no neighbors shade it out or overwhelm it. The enormous corm prefers light-sandy loams with leaf or needle litter. If sufficiently happy, C. autumnale thrusts a fantastic display of delicate blossoms into the air in September and October. The Autumn Crocus is also known as meadow saffron or naked lady because its blossoms emerge nude with green foliage following after the bloom. It is native to Great Britain and Ireland but has naturalized across Europe and even in New Zealand.

Although beautiful, C. Autumnale is toxic like many other ornamental plants. Colchicine, the poisonous compound in this corm, has effects similar to arsenic poisoning, however; colchicine has been approved for the use of gout treatment and is in investigation for cancer treatment. Keep this corm off the dinner table and no worries should be had. A vigorous reproducer, the autumn crocus should give you a blanket of fall flowers in a handful of years that are an excellent goodbye to summer and a beautiful hello to fall.

The Allen Centennial Garden and its programs are funded entirely through private support - it receives no state or tuition dollars. To help support the Garden and continue to make our projects and programs possible, please consider a donation.

Tags: UW Students, Garden Display and Design

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Madison WI 53706
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