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Meadow Saffron

    Scientific Names

    Meadow Saffron
    Meadow Saffron
    • Colchicum autumnale L.
    • Liliaceae
    • Lily family

    Common Names

    ivyAutumn crocus
    ivyNaked ladies
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    Parts Usually Used

    Bulb, seeds
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    Description of Plant(s) and Culture

    Meadow saffron is a perennial plant; the large bulb is dark brown on the outside and contains a white, acrid juice. It produces several lilac or purple, crocus-like flowers in the fall, followed by smooth, narrow, dark green, basal leaves and long-elliptic seed capsules the next spring.
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    Where Found

    Common plant found in damp meadows, marshes, roadsides, banks and woods of Europe, England, and Africa and cultivated in the United States and Canada.
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    Biochemical Information

    Contains the poisonous alkaloid colchicine (medically used for gout and arthritis.
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    Legends, Myths and Stories

    The botanical name of this plant recalls its connection with Colchis, where the great witch Medea practiced her herbal enchantments.
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    The whole plant is poisonous, and small amounts of the bulb or seeds can cause death. Not for home use under any circumstances. If used, this herb must have medical supervision.
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    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

    Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

    Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

    Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

    Buy It! Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

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