Forest Findings: Crocus

by Colleen Dabrowski

Crocuses, or Crocus sativus, are flowering plants in the iris family. Comprising of over 90 species of perennials, crocuses can bloom in fall, winter and spring. Native to southern Europe, North Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East, crocuses thrive in a variety of climates. A fall-blooming species of crocus is where the spice saffron comes from; the word crocus comes from the Greek word, krokos, which means saffron. In fact, 90 percent of the world’s saffron is harvested from crocuses in Iran, according to the Humble Gardener. One ounce of saffron requires 80,000 crocus plants and is produced from dried female reproductive parts.

Crocuses are small plants that reach 8 inches to 12 inches in height. Yellow, white, mauve and purple are all colors crocuses come in. Crocuses have a cup shaped flower composed of six petals. Crocuses have three stamens and one style of design. The crocus that are growing on Drew’s campus are called Dutch crocuses, and here on the East Coast are often seen as the arrival of spring.

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