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Even the universities get mixed up about Autumn Crocus.
Is the Autumn Crocus the saffron-producing Saffron Crocus, the Crocus sativus or the poisonous Colchicum autumnale?
It really matters, because autumn is the season to harvest the saffron of crocus stamens.
What’s a gardener to do?
Safety first: Only harvest stamens from bulbs you planted yourself.
Let’s put these similar-looking flowering bulbs in a Garden Police Line Up to see if we can ID the poisonous Colchicum:
First suspect is Flower Number 1
Now examine Flower Number 2
And our last suspect, Flower Number 3
Did you guess right?
The poisoner is Flower Number 2—the dangerous Colchicum. Plant it FAR AWAY from any edibles in your garden. It is not even a crocus, but a member of the Lily family.
The crocus that will give you saffron for your kitchen? Flower Number 1. This is the Saffron Crocus, Crocus sativus, one of many autumn-flowering crocuses.
So, what is Flower Number 3? Bet you knew that one—our familiar friend, the spring blooming Crocus vernus.
Enjoy all these flowers in the garden—but only eat from ONE of them.