Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Spring Meadow Saffron
Bulbocodium vernum

Family: Colchicaceae
Genus: Bulbocodium (bulb-oh-KOD-ee-um) (Info)
Species: vernum (VER-num) (Info)

Synonym:Colchicum vernum

5 members have or want this plant for trade.


under 6 in. (15 cm)

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is resistant to deer

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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to view:

By arsenic
Thumbnail #1 of Bulbocodium vernum by arsenic

By Howard_C
Thumbnail #2 of Bulbocodium vernum by Howard_C

By trilian15
Thumbnail #3 of Bulbocodium vernum by trilian15

By trilian15
Thumbnail #4 of Bulbocodium vernum by trilian15

By Gardening_Jim
Thumbnail #5 of Bulbocodium vernum by Gardening_Jim


2 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive altagardener On Mar 6, 2008, altagardener from Calgary, AB (Zone 3b) wrote:

Hardy in zone 3, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; my earliest blooming bulb.

Positive Howard_C On May 17, 2004, Howard_C from St John's, NL wrote:

The latest botanical thinking seems to have put this back into Colchicum and the Lilaceae has been split up into several families, one of which is the Colchicaceae.

Meadow Saffron is a bad name for the plants in this genus, since it isn't even in the same family as the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus -qv). (The dried styles of a colchicum are likely to be even more poisonous than true saffron.) I am promoting "False Crocus" as an alternative name for colchicums!

I tried these many years ago and lost them, but having seen them in April 2003 doing very well in the St Petersburg (Russia)Botanical Garden I thought I'd give them another try. The fact that they came through the winter OK doesn't surprise me, it's whether our summer is warm and dry enough for them to ripen for next year that's the problem. E.A. Bowles, in his Handbook of Crocus and Colchicum, says that in the UK they need very well drained soil and should be lifted and replanted frequently. I hope they survive, since there's nothing else quite like this in spring.


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

Juneau, Alaska
Palmer, Alaska
Greenville, South Carolina
Vancouver, Washington

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