Crocus longiflorus - plant of the month Oct 2017
Crocus longiflorus comes from South-western Italy, Sicily and Malta where it favours rocky limestone areas. Despite its Mediterrainian origins, it is very hardy and makes an excellent garden plant though strong autumnal winds and heavy rain can shorten the life of the flowers. It also grows well in a pot where its delicate colouring can perhaps be best appreciated; a frame or Alpine house would afford some protection if the plant is required for 'showing'
Crocus longiflorus, the 'long-flowered' crocus is perhaps not the most appropriate name for this plant as many other species have much 'longer' flowers. A better choice might be Crocus 'odorus' or the like, to express the wonderful perfume emitted from the flowers when the temperature rises a little - E.A.Bowles commented that ' only C. laevigatus and C. imperati compete for fragrance'
From this image the characteristic deeply divided orange-red style can be seen (covered in pollen following a visit from a very happy Bee!) with yellow anthers of equal length; note also the faint veining on the petals which, in some clones, can be a pronounced dark purple. The flower colour is usually lilac through purple but white forms ( 'Albus') do exist.