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Autumn Crocus

Autumn crocus (Crocus serotinus)
Autumn crocus (Crocus serotinus)

I came across these little blue belles whilst walking along the Rio Sor in Galicia earlier this month.  There were not present in any sort of profusion, but they had a delicate blue colour which made them stand out amongst the green grass.  There are it seems three subspecies of this autumn flowering species, Crocus serotinus, subspp. clusii, serotinus and salzmannii.   They can only be separated with confidence by examining their so-called tunics (lovely word!) covering their underground corms. Since I did not think (or want) to dig them up, I will have to live without knowing the subspecies.  Maybe it is Crocus serotinus subsp. clusii , it looks a lot like it and the distribution is right, NW Spain (1).  They can all be grown as garden plants it seems.

Autumn crocus (Crocus serotinus)
Autumn crocus (Crocus serotinus)

As an aside, I am always amazed at the complexity of plant nomenclature.  For example, the scientific names – including the authorities (i.e. referring to who first named them) for the two subspecies which this plant might be are as follows:

1)  Crocus serotinus subsp. clusii (J. Gay) B. Mathew (2)

2)  Crocus serotinus subsp. salzmannii (J. Gay) B. Mathew (2)

It almost as though taxononomists have been busy complicating the naming system again, since Carl Linnaeus developed the simple binomial system of naming plants!


rcannon992 View All

I am a retired entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.

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