Crocus oreocreticus

Jane McGary
Wed, 02 Nov 2005 14:16:59 PST
Responding to Julia Feise's discussion of Crocus oreocreticus, whose 
habitat is endangered by increased cultivation on Crete: I haven't ever 
heard of its stigmas being used as culinary saffron.

However, I would say to Julia, don't despair that this population is lost 
forever. C. oreocreticus, at least those I grow here (which were grown 
about 15 years ago from originally wild-collected seeds), sets plenty of 
large, heavy seeds which germinate readily. Even if the field was tilled at 
a time when the corms of this crocus (which makes a few large offsets 
rather than a lot of little ones) were vulnerable to destruction, there is 
probably a large "bank" of seeds in the soil which may germinate and become 
flowering plants in 3 or 4 years. If, that is, the tilling isn't repeated 
annually (unlikely). The excessive chemical fertilizer application that is 
endangering orchid populations on Crete will not harm the crocuses; in 
fact, it'll probably encourage them. The question is whether they can grow 
among rank exotic pasture grass that has been seeded into the area.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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