Colchicum Species, False Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron, Naked Ladies, Showy Colchicum

Colchicum autumnale

Family: Colchicaceae
Genus: Colchicum (KOHL-chik-um) (Info)
Species: autumnale (aw-tum-NAH-lee) (Info)
Synonym:Bulbocodium antumnale
Synonym:Colchicum borisii
Synonym:Colchicum bulgaricum
Synonym:Colchicum crociflorum
Synonym:Colchicum orientale
View this plant in a garden


Alpines and Rock Gardens


Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


Good Fall Color


Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


under 6 in. (15 cm)


3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:



White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Fallbrook, California(5 reports)


Villa Park, California

Mount Prospect, Illinois

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Bucyrus, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio

Gold Hill, Oregon

Conway, South Carolina

Kennewick, Washington

Sedro Woolley, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 10, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The chalice-shaped lavender-pink flowers bloom without foliage in August/September, when many gardens begin looking tired. The flowers often fall over after a day or so---they are often grown through a low groundcover for support. I always look forward to their appearance, and I'm always disappointed that they last so briefly.

Each corm produces a cluster of flowers, sending them up in succession over about two weeks. Because the corms multiply rapidly by offsets, I'm inclined to plant them 12-18" apart. They aren't cheap, but even a single corm will soon produce a substantial display if you dig and move its offsets every few years when the foliage goes dormant. Corms should be ordered for late summer delivery and planted immediately, or they will bloom in storage.
... read more


On Dec 26, 2011, FallbrookGardnr from Fallbrook, CA wrote:

I dug up some of these bulbs from a friends yard after they had finished blooming in September (California). I planted them in my yard and they bloomed the first year after planting. They have not bloomed since!! I have some bulbs in the ground and others in a large pot with other plants...none of the them have bloomed in years. The leaves are lush & green then when they die off the blooms should appear. I do nothing for them so I wonder what I need to do to get them to bloom. I see them in the wild in Fallbrook, Ca. where no one has attended to what gives with them not blooming for me? If anyone can offer up a solution, it would be appreciated.


On Sep 13, 2005, Scorpioangel from Gold Hill, OR (Zone 7a) wrote:

A great filler plant in the spring ... nothing like glossy green leaves to make you want to get out and get ready for the coming show of spring flowers. Then after the dry summer, when not much else around here is in bloom, they start poking out of the ground. They are a welcome site this time of year when all the potted plants are being stored away for protection.


On Oct 26, 2004, Howard_C from St John's, NL wrote:

The pure wild species is a bit shapeless, with its paddled shaped petals which open wide leaving gaps between them, but the two white varieties (probably hybrids) are much better. Look good en masse.

This plant occurs wild in Britain, the only colchicum to do so.

I would hesitate to ingest any part of any colchicum, they contain the poisonous alkaloid colchicine, which does have some medical uses - not for the amateur herbalist though. I have had some reaction in my hands by just handling the corms at replanting time, so wear gloves now when I am doing this. Although I do handle several hundred most autumns and am probably more exposed than most!


On Sep 8, 2004, daryl from vernon, BC (Zone 6a) wrote:

I agree, they do of course have leaves in the spring,quite large actually (I'll take a pic in the spring).Also they can be used as a diuretic,but a word to the wise, they are also highly toxic and there can be serious consiquences to an overdose!!!


On Feb 28, 2003, albleroy from Wavre/ greenhous +/- 2500 species, IA wrote:

Excuse me, but this plant does have leaves during springtime(vegetative period), and is flowering after summer rest with, indeed only the flowers. In Dutch we name it "herfst stijlloze" what means wearing flower in fall without leaves.
This bulbs are used as medcines for those who have to much ureum and or ureum acid in the blood. It provocs diaree.


On Aug 8, 2001, killerdaisy from Dallas, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

These bulbs produce ONLY flowers, which arise in little clusters directly from the ground, with no foliage supporting them. Allow for abundant watering while active.