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Crocosmia aurea - (Pappe. ex Hook.)Planch.

Common Name Montbretia
Family Iridaceae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Shady forest areas in moist country, 2000 - 2500 metres from East Cape province and north to Mozambique, Malawi etc[79]. Especially common in conifer plantations[90].
Range S. Africa.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Crocosmia aurea Montbretia

Crocosmia aurea Montbretia


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Crocosmia aurea is a CORM growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7. It is in flower from July to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Tritonia aurea

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Colouring

A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers and used as a saffron substitute for colouring foods[61, 177, 183].

References   More on Edible Uses

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.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


None known

Special Uses

Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in almost all soils other than very heavy clays or bogs[233], though it prefers a light rich sandy soil[1, 79] in full sun or light dappled shade[200, 233]. Another report says that it prefers a fairly shady position and plenty of moisture in the growing season[79]. The corms are hardy to about -10°c[200] but in cold areas it is wise to lift them when the plants die down in the autumn, store them in a cool frost-free place over the winter and plant them out in the spring[1]. Make sure the corms do not dry out[1]. It is best to avoid lifting the corms if at all possible since the new corms seem to derive some nutrition from the old corms that have flowered[200]. Plants can divide quite freely when growing in a suitable location[233]. Although the fresh flowers have no perfume, when dried and immersed in warm water they release a scent like that of the saffron crocus[245]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[233].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold greenhouse[1]. The seed usually germinates in 3 - 9 weeks at 20 - 25°c[164]. Stored seed can be sown in early spring in a greenhouse[164]. Sow the seed thinly so that the plants can be grown on undisturbed in their pot for the first year, but give the seedlings an occasional liquid feed to ensure they do not become nutrient deficient. Once the plants are dormant in the autumn, pot up the bulbs putting 2 - 3 bulbs in each pot. Grow them on for another year or two in the greenhouse before planting them out when they are dormant in the autumn. Division in spring as new growth commences[200]. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer or following spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Pappe. ex Hook.)Planch.

Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Pam Peirce   Wed Aug 21 17:07:23 2002

I have been researching this plant for a book. I know the general texts on economic botany say it is used as a dye and a saffron substitute, but I can find no evidence of its use as a saffron substitute. I know that the man who named it (Planchon) gave it its name because the dried flowers, soaked in water, smelled like saffron, but I can find no evidence that anyone ever used it for this purpose. Without more evidence, I have to assume that this use was suggested by the smell, but never became common.

I did find one business in England that sells plants for dyers to grow as dye sources who sells this plant as a dye plant and says it has been used to dye silk.

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