Crocus – Crocus vernus

Crocuses
Crocuses

These perennial corm flowers are native to Central and southern Europe (including the islands of the Aegean), North Africa and the Middle East, across Central Asia to western China. Crocus grows two to six inches tall, with a spread of three to six inches. The leaves are grass-like and the flowers can be yellow, white, purple, or a mixture of these colors.

During the fifth century doctors in the Byzantine Empire had a high regard for the plant’s effectiveness as a remedy for “conditions of the joints” (probably rheumatism and arthritis). The pollen of the Crocus flowers was used to stop the pain of toothaches and to prevent tooth decay. It was also used to treat headaches, dysentery, measles, fever, jaundice, cholera, diabetes, urinary tract infections, and skin diseases.

According to legends, the crocus indicates either the place where the gods Jove and Juno lay together or the place where the enchantress Medea spilled an elixir of life.

The corm of the Crocus contains Colchicine, an alkaloid, and a cardiovascular toxin. Cats, cattle and humans all suffer severe gastric distress, shock, and an inhibition of normal cell growth. According to the Greek naturalist Theophrastus, slaves ate small pieces of the corm when they were angry with their masters to make themselves ill and unable to work.

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