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Selection of perennials

Colchicum L.
Autumn crocus
Colchicaceae, formerly in Liliaceae

About 60-70 species in Eurasia, 11 are the FSU. One species, C. speciosum Steven, is known in cultivation. There are also some other species, rare or unknown in gardens which deserve special attention.

C. kesselringii Regel (C. regelii Stef.).

Central Asia (Pamiro Alay, Tien Shan, Syr-Darya River basin, Chirchik valley). In mountains in alpine and subalpine zones, on submontane plains, in meadows and in the foothills among shrubs.

Tuberous corm elongated, 1-3 cm long, covered by a dark leather-like scale. Leaves linear, 2-7, appearing with flowers. Flowers 1-4, white, tube with violet-purple dorsal stripe, 2-3 cm long, stands 5-7 cm above ground. V - early spring to late spring. Flowers appear just after the snow melts. Fl - February in the wild (March, April in St. Petersburg). Fr - May. Foliage dies off in late spring after fruiting. P - by seed or by dividing older clumps in summer. Good for the rock garden. Z 4. New.

C. laetum Steven

Russia (Volga River basin), Caucasus (northern regions, and Dagestan). In meadows, steppes, in the foothills and submontaine plains.

Corm conical, about 3 cm diam., covered by black-brown scales. Flowering plants about 10 cm. Leaves linear, 3-4, appearing in spring. Flowers 1-4, fairly large, 4-5 cm, pale violet, lilac or pink. V - in two periods, early spring when fruiting, and later when flowering and developing leaves. Fl - late summer or autumn, for 2-3 weeks. Propagation by seed or division. Can grow in a rather severe climate, for example, does well in St. Petersburg in sunny and dry places. Well suited for the rock garden. Z 4. New.

C. speciosum Steven

Caucasus (Transcaucasus, and the northwestern slopes of the Great Caucasus Range), Turkey and northern Iran. Subalpine meadows, wood margins, 1,800- 3,000 m.

Tuberous-cormous plant, 20-50 cm. Corm conical, up to 6-7 cm long, with dark cinnamon-brown coats. Leaves 4-6, 20-40 cm long, broad- elliptical. Flowers 1-4, very large, pinkish-purple to violet, with white throat 5-7 cm long. Anthers orange-yellow. V - early spring, when leaves appear and fruits ripen. Fl - early autumn, after a dormant period. P - by seed, which should be sown as soon as possible after ripening or by division of old clumps. Z 4.

C. szovitsii Fisch. et C. A. Mey.

Caucasus (southeastern Transcaucasus) and northern Iran. Alpine and subalpine meadows.

Bulb-like corm 3 cm long, 1.5-2.0 cm diam. Flowering plants about 20 cm. Leaves broadly linear, or linear-lanceolate, 20 cm x 3-4 cm. Flowers 1-4, 5 cm diam., pale pink. V - early spring till beginning of summer, leaves and flowers appear at the same time, in spring. F - early spring (in St. Petersburg early April for three weeks). Fr - early June then foliage dies off. P - by seed or by division of old clumps. Z 5 (4). New.

C. umbrosum Steven

Crimea, the Caucasus (northern and western regions and Dagestan) and Turkey. Foothills and mountains, in the subalpine zones, in forests and shady places.

Bulb-like tuber 3 cm long, 2 cm diam., subglobose, covered by a blackish membraneous scale. Flowering plants 15-20 cm, fruiting 30 cm. Leaves 3-5, linear, 12-15 cm long. Flowers 1-3, lilac or light purple, 4-5 cm diam., 8-10 cm high. V (foliage) - spring (April) to June. Fl - early autumn (August, September) for 3-4 weeks. Fr - early spring (May, St. Petersburg). P - by seed or division. Requires a shaded position and good drainage. Z 4. New.

The following Caucasian species are also of garden interest

C. falcifolium Stapf (=C. serpentinum Woronow ex Miscz.)

Western Transcaucasus. Slopes.

Flowers pink, 2.0-2.5 cm. Fl. - early spring. Fr. - late autumn.

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