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Crocus biflorus subsp. nubigena - plant of the month march 2017

The common, mostly spring-flowering Crocus biflorus group is a taxonomic nightmare. The name C. biflorus dates back a long way and is mentioned in  Philip Millers Gardeners Dictionary of 1768.  At the time of writing, Brian Mathew recognised 14 subsp of Crocus biflorus in his Monograph The Crocus( Batsford), now there are around 23 named to date (Ruksans). The subsp. nubigena is a most attractive plant, favouring rocky places in the open or in sparse scrub in western  and south-western Turkey.

 

 

The images shown here are of plants growing at Gothenburg Botanical Gardens, where a comprehensive collection of Crocus biflorus and its subsp. is held.  'Nubigena' means 'of the clouds' and refers to the  mountain-top  habitat of its original collection which was made by William Herbert in 1843. Closely related to subsp. crewei but differing in having narrower leaves that are more numerous.

As can be seen from the image, the most striking feature about this Crocus is its large blackish-maroon  anthers which split at dehiscence to reveal a golden-yellow pollen. The flower colour can be white through to light violet with attractively dark striped backs to the outer petals. Throat colour can also vary - from light to dark yellow in the best forms, with yellow to light orange style branches. Cultivation is best in pots or a bulb frame where moisture can be better controlled during the dormant summer months.

To view other species of Crocus, checkout the link to Tony Goode's Crocus Pages

 

 

Ray Drew
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