Cycling Flowers and gardens

Autumn Crocuses – Crocus d'automne

When we saw these crocuses growing on the side of the road while we were cycling today, we thought they were saffron crocuses, but a closer look shows that the filaments that provide saffron, are not red. Two or three flowers You need 2 or 3 flowers to flavour a dish. Susan from Days on the Claise might be able to identify them for us.
Lorsque nous avons vu ces crocus en fleur au bord de la route en faisant du vélo aujourd’hui, nous pensions qu’il s’agissait de crocus à safran mais en regardant de plus près on voit que les filaments qui correspondent au safran ne sont pas rouges. Il faut 2 ou 3 fleurs pour relever un plat. Peut-être que Susan du blog Days on the Claise peut identifier nos crocus.

3 replies on “Autumn Crocuses – Crocus d'automne”

I can indeed id them 🙂 They are Colchicum autumnale, known as Meadow Saffron in English and Colchique d’automne in French. Technically they are not saffron at all, and not even crocuses in fact. The way you tell they are not crocuses is that they have 6 stamens. True crocuses (including saffron Crocus sativus) only have 3. These days they are not even considered to be in the same family. A nice find. They are not rare here, but not abundant either. We are on the western fringe of where they can be easily found in France. They like damp clay soil and beside tracks is a typical location.
I had a similar nice find yesterday. I saw some Autumn Squill Prospero autumnale (Fr. Scille d’automne) on the roadside near Sublaine. That’s a rare tiny blue ‘lily’, not easy to spot in the grass, so keep an eye out for it in the next couple of weeks. It likes dry gravelly places.

Ah, thank you, I thought you would know! It is the fact that they have six stamens and not three that first alerted us to the fact that they might not be Saffron Crocuses. The lack of red confirmed it.
We’ll keep our eyes pealed for Autumn Squill.

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