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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Monocots
Ordo: Liliales

Familia: Colchicaceae
Tribus: Colchiceae
Genus: Colchicum
Overview of species

C. albanense – C. albomarginatum – C. alpinum – C. amphigaripense – C. androcymbioides – C. antepense – C. antilibanoticum – C. arenarium – C. arenasii – C. asteranthum – C. asteroides – C. atticum – C. austrocapense – C. autumnale – C. balansae – C. baytopiorum – C. bellum – C. bivonae – C. boissieri – C. buchubergense – C. bulbocodium – C. burkei – C. burttii – C. × byzantinum – C. capense – C. cedarbergense – C. chalcedonicum – C. chimonanthum – C. chlorobasis – C. cilicicum – C. circinatum – C. clanwilliamense – C. confusum – C. corsicum – C. crenulatum – C. cretense – C. crispum – C. crocifolium – C. cruciatum – C. cupanii – C. cuspidatum – C. davisii – C. decaisnei – C. decipiens – C. doerfleri – C. dolichantherum – C. dregei – C. eghimocymbion – C. eichleri – C. erdalii – C. etesionamibense – C. euboeum – C. eucomoides – C. europaeum – C. exiguum – C. fasciculare – C. feinbruniae – C. figlalii – C. filifolium – C. freynii – C. gonarei – C. gracile – C. graecum – C. gramineum – C. greuteri – C. greuterocymbium – C. hantamense – C. haynaldii – C. heldreichii – C. henssenianum – C. hierosolymitanum – C. hierrense – C. hirsutum – C. hughocymbion – C. hungaricum – C. huntleyi – C. ignescens – C. imperatoris-friderici – C. inundatum – C. irroratum – C. karooparkense – C. kesselringii – C. knersvlaktense – C. kotschyi – C. kunkelianum – C. kurdicum – C. laetum – C. lagotum – C. leistneri – C. leptanthum – C. lingulatum – C. longifolium – C. longipes – C. lusitanum – C. luteum – C. macedonicum – C. macrophyllum – C. manissadjianii – C. maraschicum – C. melanthioides – C. micaceum – C. micranthum – C. minutum – C. mirzoevae – C. montanum – C. multiflorum – C. munzurense – C. nanum – C. natalense – C. neapolitanum – C. orienticapense – C. osmaniyense – C. palaestinum – C. parlatoris – C. parnassicum – C. paschei – C. peloponnesiacum – C. persicum – C. poeltianum – C. polyphyllum – C. praeirroratum – C. psammophilum – C. pulchellum – C. pusillum – C. raddeanum – C. rausii – C. rechingeri – C. ritchii – C. robustum – C. roseum – C. sanguicolle – C. scabromarginatum – C. schimperi – C. schimperianum – C. serpentinum – C. sfikasianum – C. sieheanum – C. soboliferum – C. speciosum – C. stevenii – C. stirtonii – C. striatum – C. swazicum – C. szovitsii – C. trigynum – C. triphyllum – C. troodi – C. tunicatum – C. turcicum – C. tuviae – C. umbrosum – C. undulatum – C. vanjaarsveldii – C. varians – C. variegatum – C. verlaqueae – C. villosum – C. volutare – C. walteri – C. wendelboi – C. woronowii – C. worsonense – C. zahnii


Colchicum L., Sp. Pl. 1: 341. 1753; Gen. Pl., ed. 5: 159. 1754.

Lectotype species (designated by Hitchcock, Prop. Brit. Bot. 148. Aug. 1929): Colchicum autumnale L. (1753)


Bulbocodium L., Sp. Pl. 2: 294 (1753).
Celsia Boehm., Defin. Gen. Pl.: 370 (1760), nom. illeg.
Abandium Adans., Fam. Pl. 2: 54 (1763).
Merendera Ramond, Bull. Sci. Soc. Philom. Paris 2: 178 (1801).
Geophila Bergeret, Fl. Basses-Pyrénées 2: 184 (1803), nom. rej.
Androcymbium Willd., Mag. Neuesten Entdeck. Gesammten Naturk. Ges. Naturf. Freunde Berlin 2: 21 (1808).
Erythrostictus Schltdl., Linnaea 1: 90 (1826).
Monocaryum (R.Br.) Rchb., Consp. Regn. Veg.: 64 (1828).
Hermodactylum (R.Br.) Bartl., Ord. Nat. Pl.: 52 (1830), nom. inval.
Eudesmis Raf., Fl. Tellur. 3: 80 (1837), nom. superfl.
Plexinium Raf., Fl. Tellur. 2: 32 (1837).
Fouha Pomel, Mat. Fl. Atl.: 2 (1860).
Cymbanthes Salisb., Gen. Pl.: 55 (1866).
Paludana Salisb., Gen. Pl.: 53 (1866), nom. illeg.
Synsiphon Regel, Trudy Imp. S.-Peterburgsk. Bot. Sada, prepr. 6: 490 (1879).

Native distribution areas:
Primary references

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus I: 341. Reference page.
Linnaeus, C. 1754. Genera Plantarum, ed. 5: 159. Reference page.

Additional references

Persson, K. 2007. Nomenclatural synopsis of the genus Colchicum (Colchicaceae), with some new species and combinations. Botanische Jahrbücher für Systematik, Pflanzengeschichte und Pflanzengeographie 127(2): 165–242. DOI: 10.1127/0006-8152/2007/0127-0165 Reference page.
Vinnersten, A. & Manning, J.C. 2007. A new classification of Colchicaceae. Taxon 56(1): 171–178. Wiley JSTOR Reference page.
Manning, J.C., Forest, F. & Vinnersten, A. 2007. The genus Colchicum L. redefined to include Androcymbium Willd. based on molecular evidence. Taxon 56(3): 872–882. DOI: 10.2307/25065868 JSTOR ResearchGate Reference page.


Farr, E.R. & Zijlstra, G. (eds.) 1996 onwards. Colchicum in Index Nominum Genericorum (Plantarum). Accessed: 2018 Nov 25.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2019. Colchicum in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2019 October 7. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2019. Colchicum in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2019 October 7. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2019. Colchicum. Published online. Accessed: 7 October 2019. 2019. Colchicum. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2019 October 7.

Vernacular names

العربية: لحلاح
azərbaycanca: Vaxtsızçiçək
беларуская (тарашкевіца): познацьвет
български: Мразовец
brezhoneg: Karkailh
čeština: Ocún
dansk: Tidløs
Deutsch: Zeitlose
español: Cólquico
eesti: Sügislill
euskara: Kolkiko
فارسی: سورنجان
suomi: Myrkkyliljat
français: Colchique
עברית: סתוונית
hornjoserbsce: Pózdnička
magyar: Kikerics
հայերեն: Խլոպուզ
Ido: Kolchiko
italiano: Colchico
ქართული: სათოვლია
қазақша: Лапыз
latviešu: Vēlziedes
македонски: Мразовец
Nederlands: Herfsttijloos
Picard: Qhutoutnu
polski: Zimowit
русский: Безвременник
slovenčina: Jesienka
svenska: Tidlösor
Türkçe: Acıçiğdem
українська: Пізньоцвіт
walon: Coltchike

Colchicum (/ˈkɒltʃɪkəm/ or /ˈkɒlkɪkəm/[2]) is a genus of perennial flowering plants containing around 160 species which grow from bulb-like corms. It is a member of the botanical family Colchicaceae, and is native to West Asia, Europe, parts of the Mediterranean coast, down the East African coast to South Africa and the Western Cape. In this genus, the ovary of the flower is underground. As a consequence, the styles are extremely long in proportion, often more than 10 cm (4 in). All species in the genus are toxic.[3]

1 Common names
2 Etymology
3 Relationships
4 Cultivation
5 Medicinal uses and poisonous properties
6 Species
7 References
8 Sources

Common names

The common names autumn crocus, meadow saffron and naked lady may be applied to the whole genus or to many of its species; they refer to the "naked" crocus-like flowers that appear in late summer or autumn, long before the strap-like foliage which appears in spring.

Colchicum and Crocus look alike and can be confused by the casual observer. To add to the confusion, there are autumn-flowering species of crocus. However, colchicums have 3 styles and 6 stamens, while crocuses have 1 style and 3 stamens.[4] In addition, the corm structures are quite different—in colchicum, the corm is irregular, while in crocuses, the corm is like a flattened ball.[5] Crocus is in the Iris Family, Iridaceae.

The name of the genus derives from Κολχίς (Colchis), the Ancient Greek name for the region of კოლხეთი (Kolkhida) in modern Georgia (Caucasus). Colchis features in Greek mythology as the land to which the Argonauts journeyed in quest of the golden fleece and where Jason encountered Medea. The Greek toponym Colchis is thought by scholars to derive from the Urartian Qulḫa, pronounced "Kolcha" (guttural "ch" - as in Scots loch).[6]

Colchicum melanthioides, also known as Androcymbium melanthioides,[7] is probably the best known species from the tropical regions. In contrast to most temperate colchicums, the flower and leaves are produced at the same time, the white flowers usually in a small corymb that is enclosed by white bracts. Close relatives such as Colchicum scabromarginatum (Androcymbium scabromarginatum) and Colchicum coloratum (Androcymbium burchellii) have flowers with very short stalks and may be pollinated by rodents.[8]

Temperate colchicums are commonly grown in gardens as ornamental flowers. Species found in cultivation include:

C. × agrippinum
C. autumnale
C. × byzantinum
C. cilicicum
C. lusitanum
C. speciosum
C. tenorei

There are also cultivars and hybrids such as:-

C. 'Dick Trotter' (violet with white centre)
C. 'Disraeli' (purple white),
C. 'Giant' (red with white centre)
C. 'Harlekijn' (white with purple band)
C. 'Lilac Wonder' (lilac)
C. 'Pink Goblet'agm[9] (violet-purple)
C. 'Poseidon' (purple)
C. 'Rosy Dawn'agm[10] (rose pink)
C. 'Violet Queen' (purple)
C. 'Waterlily'agm[11] (double, lilac-pink)

Those marked agm have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit (confirmed 2017).[12]

In the United Kingdom, the National Collection of colchicums is maintained at Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk.
Medicinal uses and poisonous properties

Plants in this genus contain toxic amounts of the alkaloid colchicine which is used pharmaceutically to treat gout and Familial Mediterranean fever.[13] The use of the roots and seeds in traditional medicine is thought to have arisen due to the presence of this drug.[14]

Its leaves, corm and seeds are poisonous. Murderer Catherine Wilson is thought to have used it to poison a number of victims in the 19th Century. The species known to contain the most lethal amount of colchicine is C. autumnale.[15][16][17][18]

The following are the species included in the genus Colchicum.[19] Many species previously classified in Androcymbium, Bulbocodium and Merendera were moved to Colchicum based on molecular genetic evidence.[20][21][22][23] Androcymbium is currently considered a separate genus by some.[24]

Colchicum × agrippinum (probably a hybrid of garden origin)
Colchicum alpinum DC. in Lamarck & Candolle
Colchicum androcymbioides (Valdés) K.Perss.
Colchicum antepense K.Perss.
Colchicum antilibanoticum Gomb.
Colchicum arenarium Waldst. & Kit.
Colchicum arenasii Fridl.
Colchicum asteranthum Vassiliades & K.M.Perss.
Colchicum atropurpureum Stapf ex Stearn (unresolved name)[25]
Colchicum atticum Spruner ex Tommas.
Colchicum autumnale L.
Colchicum balansae Planch.
Colchicum baytopiorum C.D.Brickell
Colchicum bivonae Guss.
Colchicum boissieri Orph.
Colchicum bulbocodium Ker Gawl.
Colchicum burttii Meikle
Colchicum × byzantinum Ker Gawl.
Colchicum chalcedonicum Azn.
Colchicum chimonanthum K.Perss.
Colchicum chlorobasis K.Perss.
Colchicum cilicicum (Boiss.) Dammer
Colchicum confusum K.Perss.
Colchicum corsicum Baker
Colchicum cretense Greuter
Colchicum crocifolium Boiss.
Colchicum cupanii Guss.
Colchicum davisii C.D.Brickell
Colchicum decaisnei Boiss.
Colchicum doerfleri Halácsy
Colchicum dolichantherum K.Perss.
Colchicum eichleri (Regel) K.Perss.
Colchicum euboeum (Boiss.) K.Perss.
Colchicum fasciculare (L.) R.Br.
Colchicum feinbruniae K.Perss.
Colchicum figlalii (Varol) Parolly & Eren
Colchicum filifolium (Cambess.) Stef.
Colchicum freynii Bornm.
Colchicum gonarei Camarda
Colchicum graecum K.Perss.
Colchicum greuteri (Gabrieljan) K.Perss.
Colchicum haynaldii Heuff.
Colchicum heldreichii K.Perss.
Colchicum hierosolymitanum Feinbrun
Colchicum hirsutum Stef.
Colchicum hungaricum Janka
Colchicum ignescens K.Perss.
Colchicum imperatoris-friderici Siehe ex K.Perss.
Colchicum inundatum K.Perss.
Colchicum kesselringii Regel
Colchicum kotschyi Boiss.
Colchicum kurdicum (Bornm.) Stef.
Colchicum laetum Steven
Colchicum lagotum K.Perss.
Colchicum leptanthum K.Perss.
Colchicum lingulatum Boiss. & Spruner in P.E.Boissier
Colchicum longifolium Castagne
Colchicum lusitanum Brot.
Colchicum luteum Baker
Colchicum macedonicum Kosanin
Colchicum macrophyllum B.L.Burtt
Colchicum manissadjianii (Azn.) K.Perss.
Colchicum micaceum K.Perss.
Colchicum micranthum Boiss.
Colchicum minutum K.Perss.
Colchicum mirzoevae (Gabrieljan) K.Perss.
Colchicum montanum L.
Colchicum multiflorum Brot.
Colchicum munzurense K.Perss.
Colchicum nanum K.Perss.
Colchicum neapolitanum (Ten.) Ten.
Colchicum parlatoris Orph.
Colchicum parnassicum Sart., Orph. & Heldr. in P.E.Boissier
Colchicum paschei K.Perss.
Colchicum peloponnesiacum Rech.f. & P.H.Davis
Colchicum persicum Baker
Colchicum polyphyllum Boiss. & Heldr. in P.E.Boissier
Colchicum pulchellum K.Perss.
Colchicum pusillum Sieber
Colchicum raddeanum (Regel) K.Perss.
Colchicum rausii K.Perss.
Colchicum ritchii R.Br.
Colchicum robustum (Bunge) Stef.
Colchicum sanguicolle K.Perss.
Colchicum schimperi Janka ex Stef.
Colchicum serpentinum Woronow ex Miscz.
Colchicum sfikasianum Kit Tan & Iatroú
Colchicum sieheanum Hausskn. ex Stef.
Colchicum soboliferum (C.A.Mey.) Stef.
Colchicum speciosum Steven
Colchicum stevenii Kunth
Colchicum szovitsii Fisch. & C.A.Mey.
Colchicum trigynum (Steven ex Adam) Stearn
Colchicum triphyllum Kunze
Colchicum troodi Kotschy in F.Unger & C.G.T.Kotschy
Colchicum tunicatum Feinbrun
Colchicum turcicum Janka
Colchicum tuviae Feinbrun
Colchicum umbrosum Steven
Colchicum varians (Freyn & Bornm.) Dyer in B.D.Jackson
Colchicum variegatum L.
Colchicum wendelboi K.Perss.
Colchicum woronowii Bokeriya
Colchicum zahnii Heldr.


"WCSP". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
"Colchicum - Define Colchicum at".
Barceloux, Donald G. (2008). Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances: Foods, Fungi, Medicinal Herbs, Plants, and Venomous Animals. Wiley. pp. 693–702. ISBN 978-0471727613.
A Handbook of Crocus and Colchicum for Gardeners, page 154
A Handbook of Crocus and Colchicum for Gardeners, page 20, elsewhere
Lordkipanidze, O. (1991). Archeology in Georgia, Weinheim, 110.
The Plant List, retrieved 27 May 2016
Ciara Kleizen, Jeremy Midgley & Steven D. Johnson (2008). "Pollination systems of Colchicum (Colchicaceae) in Southern Africa: evidence for rodent pollination". Annals of Botany. 102 (5): 747–755. doi:10.1093/aob/mcn157. PMC 2712380. PMID 18723860.
"RHS Plant Selector - Colchicum 'Pink Goblet'". Retrieved 15 April 2020.
"RHS Plant Selector - Colchicum 'Rosy Dawn'". Retrieved 15 April 2020.
"RHS Plant Selector - Colchicum 'Waterlily'". Retrieved 15 April 2020.
"AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 22. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
Stuart, M. (1979). The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism. Orbis Publishing London. ISBN 0-85613-067-2.
Huxley, A. (1992). The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. MacMillan Press. ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
Frohne and Pfänder (1984). Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants. Wolfe. ISBN 0723408394.
Stary, F. (1983). Poisonous Plants. Hamlyn. ISBN 0-600-35666-3.
Altmann., H. (1980). Poisonous Plants and Animals. Chatto and Windus. ISBN 0-7011-2526-8.
"Search results — The Plant List".
John Manning, Felix Forest and Annika Vinnersten (2007). "The genus Colchicum L. redefined to include Androcymbium Willd. based on molecular evidence". Taxon. 56 (3): 872–882. doi:10.2307/25065868. JSTOR 25065868.
Karin Persson (2007). "Nomenclatural synopsis of the genus Colchicum (Colchicaceae), with some new species and combinations". Botanische Jahrbücher. 127 (2): 165–242. doi:10.1127/0006-8152/2007/0127-0165.
Alberto del Hoyo, José Luis García-Marín & Joan Pedrola-Monfort (2009). "Temporal and spatial diversification of the African disjunct genus Androcymbium (Colchicaceae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 53 (3): 848–861. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2009.08.005. PMID 19699811.
Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
"WCSP". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Retrieved February 10, 2014.

"Colchicum atropurpureum Stapf ex Stearn — The Plant List". Retrieved 2018-12-20.


Suite 101. Plants and Bulbs: Hardy Fall-Blooming Bulbs for Your Garden
Veseys: Information for gardeners
A Handbook of Crocus and Colchicum for Gardeners, Bowles, E. A., D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1952
The European Garden Flora: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass, Volume 1, Walters, S. M., et al., editors, Cambridge University Press, 1984

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