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PlantFiles: Saffron Crocus
Crocus sativus

Family: Iridaceae (eye-rid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Crocus (KROH-kus) (Info)
Species: sativus (sa-TEE-vus) (Info)

10 vendors have this plant for sale.

66 members have or want this plant for trade.


under 6 in. (15 cm)

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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By dayli
Thumbnail #1 of Crocus sativus by dayli

By debi_z
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6 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive whitesam9 On Feb 20, 2011, whitesam9 from Dayton, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

I planted a few corms of Saffron Crocus last year. They bloomed from late October to almost the end of November. Very beautiful deep blue blooms. They were a welcome sight in my garden, when there wasn't much else still blooming that late in the Fall.

Positive 618618 On Dec 20, 2008, 618618 from karaj
Iran wrote:

I can tell any useful information about saffron in persia if you like
by thanks~Hadi

Positive mcgerm On Nov 5, 2007, mcgerm from Galesburg, MI wrote:

I purchased 12 corms at the Landis Valley Museum Harvest Days last year for about $5. They are all blooming now, November 4th, and I have the threads drying in my kitchen. I learned from the vendor that they grow well in Lancaster County PA and that the Amish still grow them for their own use and as a small cash crop.

UPDATE Moved to MI from Lancaster PA and planted 50 bulbs in 2008. Picked about 10 flowers in 2008. They are blooming again (Fall 2009) and I have picked 11 flowers but most are still coming up or just in bud.

Positive dayli On Dec 30, 2006, dayli from Vienna, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Thomas Jefferson used to grow saffron at Monticello. Before I heard that I always thought that it needed a warmer climate, but it grows fine here in Virginia. Beautiful purple flowers whose orange filaments you can use to flavor your paella if you are Spanish or dye your robes a golden yellow if you are a Buddhist monk.

It is the traditional flavoring for Cornish pastries, supposed to have come to Cornwall in England when Phoenician traders exchanged it for tin to make bronze during the bronze age. Other stories have it brought to England by the conquering Romans. It was a valuable spice in Imperial Rome. Or it returned with the crusaders from the middle east. The Arabic word for yellow is za'fran.

It blooms in October when color is always welcome. In the picture you can see the three red-orange threads coming out of the flower--that is the saffron. You can harvest it and still leave the flower in place. I let the filaments dry inside on a plate for two or three days and fold them by pinches into small squares of wax paper to be stored in a covered spice jar.

Neutral Howard_C On May 16, 2004, Howard_C from St John's, NL wrote:

Brian Mathew, in his 1982 monograph "The Crocus", says that he is fairly sure that C. sativus is an ancient selection of C. cartwrightianus, which grows around Athens. (It is possible that this has now been established by DNA analysis, but I don't know.) I have never been able to grow C. sativus here in Newfoundland, either in pots or outdoors, but I do have an alternative source of saffron: C. nudiflorus, which also has a very interesting history. (I've added this plant to the lists.)

Positive hobbyfarmer On Jun 2, 2003, hobbyfarmer wrote:

Other sources state toxicity in large doses(much higher than normaly used), maybe a concern in houses with small children. Also, most sources claim plant is triploid and sterile, no seed produced, propogation only by corms.

Positive lupinelover On Jan 24, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Growing your own saffron is highly economical! A few corms are enough for most family's yearly use. They multiply pretty fast, so a relatively small investment will quickly pay for itself.

One cautionary note: many US catalogues sell "Autumn Crocus" when they are actually Colchicum. Be very sure to properly identify the plant. Colchicum is very toxic! Crocus sativus has 3 stigma that loll out of the flower; colchicum have 6 that stay inside the flower.

Neutral Baa On Oct 17, 2001, Baa wrote:

A cormous perennial of unknown origin (possibly Greece and Asia Minor) but widely grown for its valuable spice.

Has thin, needle like, dark green leaves. Bears fully open cup shaped, scented, lilac-pale purple flowers and a 3 cleft bright orange stigma which is the saffron.

Flowers September-October

Likes a well drained, gritty, friable, poorish soil in full sun. The corms are summer dormant and they need to be kept dry in this stage.

Saffron is an expensive spice, each flower yields just 3 strands so it have to be grown on a large scale and is hand collected even in our age of technology. 60,000 stigmas are needed just to make 1 lb of saffron and 1 acre of ground only yields 4lbs.

Saffron was primarily used as a dye, food colouring and as a perfume in ancient times, Persian kings wore slippers dyed with saffron. Pliny wrote about the flowers being strewed on the floor and in fountains to give off its perfume.

It was also used in medicine, it was thought to be able to treat jaundice, insomnia, measels and small pox.

Its most common modern use is of course in cookery where it imparts a subtle flavour and colouration to the food.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Amesti, California
Brentwood, California
Encinitas, California
Garberville, California
Los Angeles, California
Rancho Palos Verdes, California
San Jose, California
Vista, California
Chicago, Illinois
Louisville, Kentucky
Chatham, Massachusetts
Springfield, Massachusetts
Belleville, Michigan
Galesburg, Michigan
Florence, Mississippi
Kansas City, Missouri
Bayville, New Jersey
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Croton On Hudson, New York
Haviland, Ohio
Claremore, Oklahoma
Corvallis, Oregon
Lebanon, Oregon
Brookhaven, Pennsylvania
Hummelstown, Pennsylvania
Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
Mount Joy, Pennsylvania
Ashland City, Tennessee
Powell, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Magna, Utah
Mc Lean, Virginia
Vienna, Virginia
Madison, Wisconsin

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