Autumn crocus Crocus nudiflorus

Status Non-native, invasive
Best Time to See September, October
Colour Purple
Habitat Grassland

A small flowering plant that turns a vivid purple in autumn.

Autumn crocus is a name also given to meadow saffron even though it isn't actually a crocus. Unlike meadow saffron, Crocus nudiflorus is not a native plant.

Distribution

Autumn crocus has naturalized in the UK and is particularly found in north-west England.

Habitat

Meadows, planted in towns. Quite widely naturalised in churchyards, parks and roadsides.

Best time to see

When it flowers, September-October.

Did you know?

County flower of Nottinghamshire.

The leafless lilac flowers of autumn crocus used to adorn the flood-meadows of the River Trent, and were sold in bunches at market in Nottingham. They have fared less well this century as many sites have been developed or flooded.

Probably an escape from monastery gardens, the crocus by chance found a new home in meadows ‘shut-up' from grazing in early autumn to reserve enough grass for the winter months. It was probably an addition to monks' herb gardens to provide a cheap substitute for saffron (the stigmas of the closely related C. sativus).