Saffron Crocus
Crocus sativus

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

Category:

Bulbs

Herbs

Height:

under 6 in. (15 cm)

Spacing:

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

Hardiness:

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

Danger:

N/A

Bloom Color:

Purple

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Foliage:

Herbaceous

Smooth-Textured

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:

Non-patented

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

Regional

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

Garland, Texas

Magna, Utah

Mc Lean, Virginia

Vienna, Virginia

Madison, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

7
positives
2
neutrals
0
negatives
RatingContent
Positive

On Feb 10, 2015, Kell from Northern California, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Per Jan Emming owner of the Destination:Forever Ranch and Gardens, a 40 acre desert botanical garden and sustainable living homestead in the Arizona desert with a nursery:

Saffron is a fascinating substance used as a food spice, as a dye, and as a medicine. It is the world's most costly spice, typically costing thousands of dollars per pound. The origins are highly unusual - it is the stigma of the saffron crocus, commonly named Crocus sativus in Latin. But the crocus bulbs used for the spice are not the same as the wild species, and it is thought that the actual progenitor of the saffron crocus is a species known as Crocus cartwrightianus, found on the island of Crete in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Saffron crocus is a beautiful small bulb in the iris fami... read more

Positive

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

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

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

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 ... read more

Neutral

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

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

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

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 ... read more