Learn / Ask The Landscape Professional
I am sick of all the cold and snow. Please cheer me up!
Hang in there. In a few weeks the crocuses
will be poking above the snow and the warm weather won't
be far behind. Crocuses are fascinating plants that are
members of the iris family and bloom in a range of colors:
yellow, white, blue, violet and striped. Crocuses are found
around the world, and over 80 varieties are known.
While we are mostly familiar with the crocus varieties that
bloom in the late winter and in spring, one particularly fascinating
variety, the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), blooms in
the fall. All crocus flowers have three red stigmas which are
also called "threads".
The saffron crocus has been around for over 3000 years and
was bred over the centuries to have especially long threads,
which when picked and dried are used to make the saffron
spice known around the world.
Because it is so strong, only a few threads
are needed to flavor food. Saffron has
also been used for dyes, in medicine
and in perfumes. After Buddha
died in 483 B.C., Buddhist
priests used saffron colored
robes as their official color which persists to this day. Over 95% of the
world's supply of saffron comes from Iran where the threads are hand-picked
from crocus flowers in the early morning each fall. It takes about 80,000
crocus flowers to produce 1 lb of saffron. It is estimated that worldwide
production of saffron is 600,000 lbs., which means that about 50 million
crocuses contributed their stigmas! That's a lot of hand-picking! Not
surprisingly, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, retailing at over $5,000 per oz!
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About Linda Lillie
Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier
landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry
service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of
Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national
award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.