Herb latin name: Colchicum bivonae

Synonyms: Colchicum bowlesianum, Colchicum latifolium, Colchicum sibthorpii, Colchicum visianii

Family: Colchicaceae

Description of the plant:


15 cm
(6 inches)

to October

Habitat of Colchicum bivonae:

Mountainous regions in pinewood and scrub around 500 metres.

Other uses of the herb:

The poisonous alkaloid "colchicine" is extracted from this plant and used to alter the genetic make-up of plants in an attempt to find new, improved varieties. It works by doubling the chromosome number.

Propagation of Colchicum bivonae:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in early summer in a seed bed or a cold frame. Germination can be very slow, taking up to 18 months at 15C. It is best to sow the seed thinly so that it is not necessary to transplant the seedlings for their first year of growth. Apply a liquid fertilizer during their first summer, however, to ensure they get sufficient nourishment. Prick out the seedlings once they are dormant, putting perhaps 2 plants per pot, and grow them on in a greenhouse or frame for at least a couple of years. Plant them out into their permanent positions when they are dormant. The seedlings take 4 - 5 years to reach flowering size. Division of the bulbs in June/July when the leaves have died down. Larger bulbs can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up the smaller bulbs and grow them on in a cold frame for a year before planting them out. The plant can be divided every other year if a quick increase is required.

Cultivation of the herb:

Mountainous regions in pinewood and scrub around 500 metres.

Medicinal use of Colchicum bivonae:

None known

Known hazards of Colchicum bivonae:

All parts of the plant, but especially the bulb, are poisonous. They cause vomiting, violent purging, serious inflammation of the stomach and bowels, and death. Handling the corms can cause skin allergies in some people.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.