Crocus (Crocus spp.)
In the Spring, you will see many wild Crocus on the zoo grounds. You may even recognize them in your own yard. There are over 90 different species of Crocus and different species of crocus bloom in different parts of the year, but most species will show their beautiful flowers during the late winter and early spring.
Crocus can tell temperature. They open their flowers as temperatures rise and close them when the temperature falls, A closed flower protects the pollen until the warmer weather brings the pollinators buzzing around. They sometimes repeat the action several times during the day as a temperature rise of only .36 degrees is enough for the flower to open. This known as thermonasty, a trait they share with tulips.
DESCRIPTION: Crocus is small plant that can reach 8 to 12 inches in height. Crocus have a single, cup-shaped flower that arises from long tube. The flower is composed of six petals. The green leaves of crocus have a sword-like shape and a white central stripe.
The color of the flower depends on the species. Crocus are usually yellow, white, mauve or lilac in color.
Each Croci has a corm which serves as an underground storage system. Each year, at the beginning of the new growing season, a new corm develops on the top of the old corm and it sends the flower and leaves up above ground.
Crocus tolerate low temperatures and cold climates and their beautiful flowers often protrude from the snow when these plants live on the high altitudes.
Saffron is a spice derived from dried female reproductive organs (red stigmas). These organs contain pigment called crocin which is yellow in color and has musky taste. The spice originates from a flower called crocus sativus—commonly known as the "saffron crocus." It is believed that saffron originated and was first cultivated in Greece, but today the spice is primarily grown in Iran, Greece, Morocco, and India.
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world because one ounce of saffron requires 80 000 plants. All plants are harvested manually.
Saffron based pigment was used in the cave art 50 000 years ago. Saffron can be used in the manufacture of perfumes and in medicine. Some studies showed that saffron has antibacterial properties and possible anti-tumor effects. Certain species of crocus, such as Crocus Autumnale are poisonous.
RANGE: Crocus originate from Southern Europe, Central Asia, China, Middle East and Africa but are now found worldwide.
HABITAT: Crocus lives in alpine meadows, rocky mountainsides, scrublands, suburban lawns, and woodlands.
LIFE: Croci has a corm which serves as underground storage system. Each year, at the beginning of the new growing season, a new corm develops on the top of the old corm.
Crocus can be pollinated by various types of insects, such as bees, moths and beetles.
LIFE SPAN: Varies greatly based on genus and habitat.
STATUS: Varies greatly based on genus and habitat.