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Colchicum autumnale - L.                
                 
Common Name Autumn Crocus
Family Colchicaceae
Synonyms
Known Hazards All parts of the plant, but especially the bulb[200], are poisonous[4, 7, 10, 19, 65]. They cause vomiting, violent purging, serious inflammation of the stomach and bowels, and death[232]. Handling the corms can cause skin allergies in some people[238].
Habitats Meadows and damp woodland clearings[1, 10, 13] on calcareous and neutral soils[17]. Extremely rare away from the Bristol Channel in Britain[7].
Range Central and southeastern Europe, including Britain, from Denmark to Spain, east to Macedonia.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of bulb
Colchicum autumnale is a BULB growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 7-Feb It is in flower from Aug to October, and the seeds ripen from Apr to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, self.The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.


USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Colchicum autumnale Autumn Crocus


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Koeh-044.jpg
Colchicum autumnale Autumn Crocus
   
Habitats       
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Lawn; Meadow;
Edible Uses                                         
None known
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Analgesic;  Antirheumatic;  Cathartic;  Emetic;  Homeopathy.

Though known since at least the time of the ancient Greeks, autumn crocus was considered too poisonous to use medicinally and it was not until research in the Eighteenth century that the plant was discovered to be of value in the treatment of gout[268]. In modern herbalism it is still used to relieve the pain and inflammation of acute gout and rheumatism, although frequent use has been known to encourage more frequent attacks of the complaint[232, 268]. Both the corm and the seeds are analgesic, antirheumatic, cathartic and emetic[4, 7, 13, 21, 235]. They are used mainly in the treatment of gouty and rheumatic complaints, usually accompanied with an alkaline diuretic[4]. Leukaemia has been successfully treated with autumn crocus, and the plant has also been used with some success to treat Bechet's syndrome, a chronic disease marked by recurring ulcers and leukaemia[254]. A very toxic plant, it should not be prescribed for pregnant women or patients with kidney disease, and should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[238]. See also the notes above on toxicity. The seeds are harvested in early summer, the corms in mid to late summer when the plant has fully died down. They are dried for later use[238]. The fresh bulb is used to make a homeopathic remedy[232]. It is used in the treatment of nausea, diarrhoea and rheumatism[232].
Other Uses
Plant breeding.

The poisonous alkaloid 'colchicine' is extracted from this plant and used to alter the genetic make-up of plants in an attempt to find new, improved varieties[9, 13, 19, 46, 100, 171]. It works by doubling the chromosome number[89].
Cultivation details                                         
Prefers a rich well-drained loam in a sunny position[1, 188]. Tolerates partial shade but dislikes dry soils[1]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.5 to 7.5. Plants are hardy to about -20°c[200]. The dormant bulbs are fairly hardy and will withstand soil temperatures down to at least -5°c[214]. The autumn crocus is easily grown in grass[90] and can be naturalized there[200]. It also grows well amongst shrubs and by woodland edges[28]. Plant the corms about 7 - 10cm deep in July[1]. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233], though slugs may attack the corms[238]. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies[201].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in early summer in a seed bed or a cold frame[1, 164]. Germination can be very slow, taking up to 18 months at 15°c[164]. It is best to sow the seed thinly so that it is not necessary to transplant the seedlings for their first year of growth. Apply a liquid fertilizer during their first summer, however, to ensure they get sufficient nourishment. Prick out the seedlings once they are dormant, putting perhaps 2 plants per pot, and grow them on in a greenhouse or frame for at least a couple of years. Plant them out into their permanent positions when they are dormant[K]. The seedlings take 4 - 5 years to reach flowering size[1]. Division of the bulbs in June/July when the leaves have died down[1]. Larger bulbs can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up the smaller bulbs and grow them on in a cold frame for a year before planting them out. The plant can be divided every other year if a quick increase is required[1].
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
L.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
17200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[7]Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
[9]Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
[10]Altmann. H. Poisonous Plants and Animals.
A small book, reasonable but not very detailed.
[13]Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants.
Very interesting reading, giving some details of plant uses and quite a lot of folk-lore.
[17]Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles.
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
[19]Stary. F. Poisonous Plants.
Not very comprehensive, but easy reading.
[21]Lust. J. The Herb Book.
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
[28]Knight. F. P. Plants for Shade.
A small but informative booklet listing plants that can be grown in shady positions with a few cultivation details.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[89]Polunin. O. and Huxley. A. Flowers of the Mediterranean.
A very readable pocket flora that is well illustrated. Gives some information on plant uses.
[90]Phillips. R. and Rix. M. Bulbs
Superbly illustrated, it gives brief details on cultivation and native habitat.
[100]Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide.
An excellent and well illustrated pocket guide for those with very large pockets. Also gives some details on plant uses.
[164]Bird. R. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 4.
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. A good article on Yuccas, one on Sagebrush (Artemesia spp) and another on Chaerophyllum bulbosum.
[171]Hill. A. F. Economic Botany.
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some a bit of detail about the plants it does cover.
[188]Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[201]Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting.
A well produced and very readable book.
[214]Matthews. V. The New Plantsman. Volume 1, 1994.
A quarterly magazine, it has articles on Himalayacalamus hookerianus, hardy Euphorbias and an excellent article on Hippophae spp.
[232]Castro. M. The Complete Homeopathy Handbook.
A concise beginner's guide to the subject. Very readable.
[233]Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
[235]Britton. N. L. Brown. A. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada
Reprint of a 1913 Flora, but still a very useful book.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
[268]Stuart. M. (Editor) The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism
Excellent herbal with good concise information on over 400 herbs.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Muhammad Saleem Ch Tue Oct 5 11:02:17 2004
Dear Sirs,

Briefly our company is pioneer in collection, processing and commercial export of wild grown natural Medicinal Herbs, Plants & Seeds .

Would you be interested in following raw material collected from fields & forests of Himalia, Karakuram and Hindukush ranges:-

Botanical Name: English Name:

Alfalfa Alfalfa

Ephedra procera Ephedra

Carum Carvi Caraway Seeds

Colchicum luteum Golden collyrium

Hippophae rhamnoides Seabuckthorn Berries, Plup & Seeds

Natural crop is the best and richest source of oil as well other by-products.

Free samples, CFR rates and further details are available on hearing interest with complete postal address.

Best regards, M. Saleem Ch Munawar Industrial Enterprises, H-807, Akbari Mandi, Lahore - Pakistan Phone: 0092-42-7672379, 7653532 E-mail: saleem@lcci.org.pk, sunfr@lcci.org.pk Web: www.mieproducts.com

Link: Munawar Industrial Enterprises, Re: Colchicum

Elizabeth H.
Robert Houston Sun Jun 24 2007
Can you please recommend a bulb supplier for Colchicum autumnale? Thanks. Sincerely, candocrew @ clearwire.net
Elizabeth H.
Erdem Fri Apr 25 2008
hi I check the family of colchicum autumnale, which is colchicaceae. The one I learned is Liliaceae, I wonder which one is correct. Could you guys return me? Please
Elizabeth H.
Rajamanickam Mon Sep 7 2009
Please let me know the natural distribution / growing of Colchicum autumnale abundantly in the globe.
Elizabeth H.
ravindra Mon Oct 12 2009
its really good and more than sufficent info
Elizabeth H.
Fri Jan 22 2010
Colchicum autumnale is used in medicine, for gout and Familial Meditaranian Fever. Medically it is very valuable
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