Herb latin name: Crocus nudiflorus

Family: Iridaceae (Iris Family)

Medicinal use of Crocus nudiflorus:

This species has been used as a saffron substitute. The following notes are for the genuine saffron, C. sativus:- Saffron is a famous medicinal herb with a long history of effective use. The flower styles and stigmas are the parts used, but since these are very small and fiddly to harvest they are very expensive and consequently often adulterated by lesser products. They are anodyne, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, appetizer, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, sedative and stimulant. They are used as a diaphoretic for children and to treat chronic haemorrhages in the uterus of adults. A dental analgesic is obtained from the stigmas. The styles are harvested in the autumn when the plant is in flower and are dried for later use, they do not store well and should be used within 12 months. This remedy should be used with caution, large doses can be narcotic and quantities of 10g or more can cause an abortion.

Description of the plant:


20 cm
(7 3/4 inch)

to October

Habitat of the herb:


Edible parts of Crocus nudiflorus:

This species has been used as a saffron substitute. The following notes are for the genuine saffron, C. sativus:- The flower styles are used as a flavouring and yellow colouring for various foods such as bread, soups, sauces, rice and puddings. Extremely rich in riboflavin. Water soluble. Yields per plant are extremely low, about 4000 stigmas yield 25g of saffron. Saffron is the world's most expensive spice, it takes 150,000 flowers and 400 hours work to produce 1 kilo of dried saffron. About 25 kilos of styles can be harvested from a hectare of the plant. The flower styles are used as a tea substitute.

Other uses of the herb:

The yellow dye obtained from the stigmas has been used for many centuries to colour cloth. It is the favoured colouring for the cloth of Indian swamis who have renounced the material world. A blue or green dye is obtained from the petals.

Propagation of Crocus nudiflorus:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light sandy soil in pots in a cold frame. The seed can also be sown in a cold frame in early spring. Sow thinly because the seed usually germinates freely, within 1 - 6 months at 18C. Unless the seed has been sown too thickly, do not transplant the seedlings in their first year of growth, but give them regular liquid feeds to make sure they do not become deficient. Divide the small bulbs once the plants have died down, planting 2 - 3 bulbs per 8cm pot. Grow them on for another 2 years in a greenhouse or frame and plant them out into their permanent positions when dormant in late summer. Plants take 3 - 4 years to flower from seed. Division of the clumps after the leaves die down in spring. The bulbs can be replanted direct into their permanent positions if required.

Cultivation of the herb:


Known hazards of Crocus nudiflorus:

The following reports are for C. sativus. They quite possibly also apply to this species. The plant is poisonous. The plant is perfectly safe in normal usage but 5 - 10 grams of saffron has been known to cause death.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.