Herb latin name: Colchicum luteum

Family: Colchicaceae

Medicinal use of Colchicum luteum:

The corms are alterative, aphrodisiac, carminative and laxative. They are used in India to treat gout, rheumatism and diseases of the liver and spleen. They contain the toxic alkaloid "colchicine" which is used externally to relieve pain. The dried corms contain around 0.25% colchicine and the seed about 0.4%.

Description of the plant:


10 cm
(4 inches)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Stony or earthy hillsides and alpine meadows at higher altitudes.

Other uses of Colchicum luteum:

The following notes are for C. autumnale. Since this plant also contains colchicine it can be assumed that it has the same uses. 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 the herb:

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 Colchicum luteum:

Stony or earthy hillsides and alpine meadows at higher altitudes.

Known hazards of Colchicum luteum:

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.