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Crocus nudiflorus - Sm.

Common Name
Family Iridaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards The following reports are for C. sativus. They quite possibly also apply to this species. The plant is poisonous[21]. The plant is perfectly safe in normal usage but 5 - 10 grams of saffron has been known to cause death[65].
Habitats Meadows[90].
Range S. Europe - S.W. France to N.E. Spain.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Crocus nudiflorus

Crocus nudiflorus


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Crocus nudiflorus is a CORM growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from September to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, butterflies.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Lawn; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Colouring  Condiment  Tea

This species has been used as a saffron substitute[200]. The following notes are for the genuine saffron, C. sativus:- The flower styles are used as a flavouring and yellow colouring for various foods such as bread, soups, sauces, rice and puddings[2, 4, 7, 14, 21, 27, 34, 183]. Extremely rich in riboflavin[137]. Water soluble[171]. Yields per plant are extremely low, about 4000 stigmas yield 25g of saffron[89]. Saffron is the world's most expensive spice, it takes 150,000 flowers and 400 hours work to produce 1 kilo of dried saffron[238]. About 25 kilos of styles can be harvested from a hectare of the plant[4]. The flower styles are used as a tea substitute[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.
Anodyne  Antispasmodic  Aphrodisiac  Appetizer  Carminative  Diaphoretic  Emmenagogue  Expectorant  

This species has been used as a saffron substitute[200]. The following notes are for the genuine saffron, C. sativus:- Saffron is a famous medicinal herb with a long history of effective use[4, 7]. The flower styles and stigmas are the parts used, but since these are very small and fiddly to harvest they are very expensive and consequently often adulterated by lesser products[7]. They are anodyne, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, appetizer, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, sedative and stimulant[4, 7, 21, 174, 176, 218]. They are used as a diaphoretic for children and to treat chronic haemorrhages in the uterus of adults[4]. A dental analgesic is obtained from the stigmas[7]. The styles are harvested in the autumn when the plant is in flower and are dried for later use[4], they do not store well and should be used within 12 months[238]. This remedy should be used with caution[21], large doses can be narcotic[240] and quantities of 10g or more can cause an abortion[218].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


The yellow dye obtained from the stigmas has been used for many centuries to colour cloth[4, 7, 14, 21]. It is the favoured colouring for the cloth of Indian swamis who have renounced the material world. A blue or green dye is obtained from the petals[168].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a well-drained sandy or loamy soil that is free from clay[137]. Prefers some shade from the hottest sun in summer and at least a modicum of moisture during its summer dormancy[200]. Succeeds in grass, so long as this is not mown until the leaves die down, it also grows well under deep-rooting deciduous trees and shrubs[200]. It can also be grown with very low shallow-rooting groundcover plants such as lawn camomile (Chamaemelum nobile 'Treneague')[200]. Plants are very frost hardy[137]. Plants tend to move considerably from their original planting place because of their means of vegetative reproduction, it is therefore wise not to grow different species in close proximity[1]. The corms should be planted about 5 - 8cm deep in the soil[200]. Any planting out is best done in late spring or early summer[245]. Plants take 4 - 5 years to come into flowering from seed. The flowers are only open during the day time, closing at night[245].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light sandy soil in pots in a cold frame[1]. The seed can also be sown in a cold frame in early spring[1]. Sow thinly because the seed usually germinates freely[1], within 1 - 6 months at 18°c[164]. Unless the seed has been sown too thickly, do not transplant the seedlings in their first year of growth, but give them regular liquid feeds to make sure they do not become deficient. Divide the small bulbs once the plants have died down, planting 2 - 3 bulbs per 8cm pot. Grow them on for another 2 years in a greenhouse or frame and plant them out into their permanent positions when dormant in late summer[K]. Plants take 3 - 4 years to flower from seed[200]. Division of the clumps after the leaves die down in spring[1, 200]. The bulbs can be replanted direct into their permanent positions if required.

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
Colchicum autumnaleAutumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron,Bulb0.2 6-9 MLMHSNM031
Crocus cancellatus Corm0.1 4-8  LMNM10 
Crocus kotschyanus Corm0.3 4-8  LMNDM10 
Crocus sativusSaffronCorm0.1 5-9  LMSNDM332
Crocus serotinus Corm0.1 5-9  LMSNDM201

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.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

   Aug 26 2011 12:00AM

Crocus nudiflorus (along with at least 3 other species of Crocus) grows wild in the Mersey Valley in South Manchester (UK). The conventional explanation for the presence of this plant, in this region, is connected with the Knights of St. John. They are known to have had holdings in the Southern Pennines. I'm not sure if they had a presence in S. Manchester but I suppose the Crocus roots (rhizomes?) could have been washed down the Pennine watershed in winter floods (?) I also have a suspicion that these Crocuses could possibly have been linked to the hand-loom weaving trade - which was an important part of our local economy 2 or 3 hundred years ago. Is their any evidence for C. nudiflorus saffron being used for dyeing cloth?

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