Colchicum autumnale - Autumn Crocus/Meadow Saffron

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Liliales - Family: Colchicaceae

Autumn Crocus flowering in the Algarve

This short perennial flower appears before its leaves, and has delightful pink or pale mauve tepals and deep orange or yellow anthers.

The place to look for these lovely flowers is in open grassy meadows, roadside ditches and on the edges if open woodland - anywhere slightly damp and that retains moisture. In the UK these autumn flowering crocuses are nearly always to be found in gardens or parks, and so it is quite a treat to find them growing wild, although they are extremely poisonous to livestock that are grazing in the same places.

These crocuses flower from September until the beginning of November in the Mediterranean region. At one time they were used to produce a drug called Colchicine that was used in the treatment of gout.

This specimen was photographed in the Algarve in Portugal in November. We found them in the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa which is home to many other lovely plants, birds and animals.