Crocus tommasinianus, The Woodland Crocus

Woodland Crocus (Crocus tommasinianus)Also known as Tommasini’s Crocus or just as Tommies it is named after a botanist and mayor of Triest, Muzio G. Spirito de Tommasini.

Other names include Early Crocus and Snow Crocus but these names are applied to several different species.

How do we know that this is a Woodland Crocus? Answer: The white perianth tube (you can say stem)

Woodland Crocus (Crocus tommasinianus)I hate using words like perianth tube when stem will do just as well but in this case it is more accurate.

The prianth of a flower usually means the sepals and the petals combined. The non reproductive parts of the flower that surround the reproductive parts. In the case of the Crocus the stem and ovary  remain underground until the seeds ripen, a strategy to protect the seeds from the winter weather. What looks like a stem is actually part of the perianth.

The silver stripe on the leaves isn’t much help to identification, pretty much all Crocuses have that feature but timing is a guide, this is one of our earliest crocuses and flowers in February.

Woodland Crocus (Crocus tommasinianus)It is naturalised in the UK but only recently. Introduced in the mid nineteenth century it was only recorded growing in the wild in 1963. It is much more common in the south of England and still quite rare when you head north.

It is native to Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia.

Crocuses are rich in nectar and pollen and rely exclusively on insects to pollinate them. They should be a favourite of early Bees but there is a catch. They only open in full sun and may not be open very much at all if they are growing in woodland, in February.

Woodland Crocus (Crocus tommasinianus)Crocuses grow from a corm (something between a bulb and a tuber) and they produce small corms around the base of the original. This is a second form of reproduction in case pollination fails so it is not unusual to find them growing in tight little groups.

Crocuses have six petals and three anthers that surround the central style.

Woodland Crocus (Crocus tommasinianus)

Woodland Crocus (Crocus tommasinianus)The spice saffron comes from another crocus (Crocus sativus), it is made from just the female parts, the style and stigmas. It is the most expensive spice in the world and you can see from looking at this species that it takes a lot of crocuses to make just a little saffron.

Woodland Crocus (Crocus tommasinianus)Taxonomy

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Asparagales

Family: Iridaceae

Genus: Crocus

Species: Crocus tommasinianus

Woodland Crocus (Crocus tommasinianus)Back to Purple Wildflowers

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