Colchicum

Colchicum Plant Information


Colchicum grows in the following 9 states:

Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Oregon, Massachusetts, New York

Colchicum (/kltkm/ or /klkkm/) is a genus of perennial flowering plants containing around 160 species which grow from bulb-like corms. It is a member of the botanical family Colchicaceae, and is native to West Asia, Europe, parts of the Mediterranean coast, down the East African coast to South Africa and the Western Cape. In this genus the ovary of the flower is underground. As a consequence, the styles are extremely long in proportion, often more than 10cm (4in).

The common names "autumn crocus", "meadow saffron" and "naked lady" may be applied to the whole genus or to many of its species; they refer to the "naked" crocus-like flowers which appear in late summer or autumn, long before the strap-like foliage which appears in spring.
The scientific name comes from the Colchis, a region in Georgia (Caucasus) known by the Ancient Greeks by that name, and mentioned in the mythology as the destination of the Argonauts and the place of Medea and the golden fleece.
Colchicum melanthioides, also known as Androcymbium melanthioides, is probably the best known species from the tropical regions. In contrast to most temperate colchicums the flower and leaves are produced at the same time, the white flowers are usually a small corymb which is enclosed by white bracts. Close relatives (such as Androcymbium scabromarginatum and Colchicum coloratum (Androcymbium burchellii)) have flowers with very short stalks and might be pollinated by rodents.
Temperate colchicums are commonly grown in gardens as ornamental flowers. They include cultivars and hybrids such as:-
(Those marked agm have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit).
In the United Kingdom, the National Collection of colchicums is maintained at Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk.
The plant contains the alkaloid colchicine which is used pharmaceutically to treat gout and Familial Mediterranean fever. The use of the roots and seeds in traditional medicine is thought to have arisen due to the presence of this drug.
Its leaves, corm and seeds are poisonous. Murderer Catherine Wilson is thought to have used it to poison a number of victims in the 19th century.
The following are the species included under Colchicum. Many species previously classified under Androcymbium, Bulbocodium and Merendera were synonymized under Colchicum based on molecular genetic evidence,Androcymbium is currently considered a separate genus.

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