Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fall Crocuses

I took a walk at the Cincinnati Nature Center at lunch one day this week, just Holly and I. We hadn't been there in a couple of months, waiting until the hot, miserable summer turned into cooler autumn, until I was revitalized and stimulated to walk the woods again.

Without binoculars, field guides, or any express purpose, we wandered the flat, upland paths. I heard more birds than I saw - White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Chickadees, Carolina Wren, Northern Cardinals, American Goldfinches, House Wren, Blue Jay, and Eastern Wood-pewee.

As I approached the Krippendorf Lodge, I came upon these little beauties, nestled at the base of a tree: Colchicum, or Fall Crocuses.

No, they're not a native wildflower. Instead, they are a legacy of the original owners of this remarkable property. Like the daffodils that bloom every spring, the fall crocuses are a gift from the past, from the days when Carl Krippendorf planted hundreds, probably thousands, of bulbs on his property.

Purists might argue that they don't belong here, in a nature preserve in Ohio, but I enjoy them. Their glowing color sparkles among the newly fallen leaves and fading vegetation. And, they are another connection with the Krippendorfs, who loved this place and left it for the generations that followed to love, too.


Susan Gets Native said...

I love all the flowers that pop up at you around the lodge.
So many things make me remember that people lived there once. A rusty plow just off the trail, the well, old paving stones. Don't you just love the CNC?

Kathy said...

The fall crocus are beautiful. I didn't know there were varities that bloom in the fall. How is Holly feeling now? Are the medications helping?

Lisa said...

Hey! saffron on the hoof!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful flowers. I usually try to grow only native plants in my garden, but for the crocuses I have to be a hypocrite and say, "I don't CARE; these are GORGEOUS!" Interesting blog, and I can't wait to see both your post and Susan's after you go birding together! :)

Blog: "Adventures of Bird Girl",

KatDoc said...

Thanks for asking, Kathy. Holly (the dog) is scratching a little less, so we are making progress, although she is still PU/PD (PolyUric/PolyDipsic = peeing a lot & drinking a lot) from the pred. Pray for rain.

Welcome, Helena, to the crazy carousel that is my blog. Daffodils and crocuses get a free pass in my yard, too.


M Sinclair Stevens (Texas) said...

Aren't colchicums a different species than crocuses? I know there are real fall crocuses, Crocus sativus (which provides saffron) and Crocus speciosus (which I've managed to grow, to my surprise). I'm not really sure what a colchicum is, though. Do they need cold to bloom (like tulips?) Anyway, I found this post when I was looking for information on varieties of fall crocuses. I've got two and I've lost track of which is which.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens

KatDoc said...

Hi, mss of Texas. Thanks for visiting my blog! Yes, Colchicum sp., sometimes called Autumn Crocus or Fall Crocus, is a different species than the true Crocus that we commonly think of when we use that name. Your question sent me to the Web, looking for more information.

The following comes from Pacifc Rim nursery's site:

"Let's call them colchicums: "autumn crocus" is confusing. These beautiful lily cousins are not true crocuses, which are cousins of iris. And while many colchicums do bloom in autumn, others bloom in spring."

"How to tell a Colchicum from a true Crocus?
Colchicum has 6 stamens, 3 styles, and a superior ovary (that is, the flower cups the seed receptacle).

Crocus has 3 stamens, one style divided into 3, and an inferior ovary (that is, the seed receptacle is below the flower)."

That same site has a list of Crocus spp. that bloom in the fall. These are the varieties which descend from the saffron producers. Maybe you can find your your crocuses listed here.

I assume that Colchicum are planted in the fall and need cold to bloom, but I don't know that for a fact. Some of them, like "Naked Ladies" or "Surprise Lily" put up leaves in the spring and flowers later in the year, after the leaves have faded. Others, like these in this post, put up leaves and flowers together in the fall.