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The Crocus is an introduced plant from the Mediterranean and North Affica that has become naturalised here. There are several variaties of which the following are long established in the UK. Obviously there are many more that are available through nurseries.

Wiki tells us that :The crocus has been known throughout recorded history, mainly as the source of saffron. Saffron is obtained from the dried stigma of Crocus sativus, an autumn-blooming species. It is valued as a spice and dyestuff, and is one of the most expensive spices in the world. Iran is the center of saffron production.

Have a look at the following photos and try to tell which is what. 

There is on main clue - whether they are blooming in autumn are spring. 

But then, there are also numerous cultivars to confuse us.

A range of cricus in February.

At their best in early March.

EARLY CROCUS or AUTUMN CROCUS :Crocus tommasinianus 

Also known as 'Tommasini's Crocus' or 'Tommies' for short.

It is a perennial plant that can found growing in roadsides and waste ground, as well as garden lawns. It grows to up to 100mm.

Early Crocus is called 'Early' because it flowers earlier than the Spring Crocus and Yellow Crocus. The name 'Crocus' means 'saffron' in the Chaldean language. It was introduced into the UK from Eastern Europe in the nineteenth century. [Native Flower website].

Its petals are purple, but paler than the one more familiar dark purple ones in gardens, and naturally, contrast with the yellow ones, both bred varieties and often sold together.

It is botanically classified as a member of the Iris (Iridaceae) family. The genus name 'Crocus' identifies the plant as a Crocus, a plant in the Iris family which grows from corms and its species name 'tommasinianus' means 'named after botanist Tommasini'. [Native Flower website].

SPRING or GIANT CROCUS : Crocus vernus 

tHIS is a species in Family Iridaceae, native to the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the Balkans. Its cultivars and those of Crocus flavus (Dutch crocus) are used as ornamental plants. The Dutch crocuses are larger than the other cultivated crocus species (e.g., Crocus chrysanthus). Depending on the year, Crocus vernus starts flowering about the same time or up to 2 weeks after Crocus chrysanthus (snow crocus) starts flowering. Height: 4–6" (10–15 cm). [Wiki].

NATIVE FLOWER website : https://www.nativeflower.co.uk/details.php?plant_url=92

WIKIPEDIA : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocus  & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocus_vernus

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