Colchicum Autumnale is gorgeous ornamental flower that can be grown as a houseplant or a landscaping perennial. Known as Meadow Saffron or Autumn Crocus, this purple to white-petaled beauty displays waterlily-like blooms in the fall. Despite the relation to saffron (crocus satvius), Meadow Saffron should never be eaten due to its toxicity. Although Autumn Crocus is considered poisonous to humans and livestock, the seeds and corns contain the alkaloid colchicine. Colchicine is an atypical anti-inflammatory that is one of the primary treatments for gout. Users either take small amounts regularly as a preventative measure or take large doses to quell a flare up. Early colchicum extracts have been used for centuries dating back to the ancient Greeks. Colchicine was eventually isolated in 1820 by French chemists and was finally approved by the FDA in 1939. As a landscaping flower, Autumn Crocus is typically grown along borders of bed to add color just as traditional flowers are beginning to die back and fall foliage is beginning to change.
Plant seeds at about ¼” deep in a well-draining soil mix high in peat moss. Provide temperatures at about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Seeds of this species are known to be slow to germinate and will germinate irregularly. Temperature fluctuation may help break dormancy. Outdoors, the plants will do best in a cool, shady location with high humidity.