Crocus speciosus cultivars

Jim McKenney
Fri, 20 Oct 2006 16:18:46 PDT
Roger Whitlock asked "Does any PBS list subscriber grow any particularly
distinct form of C. speciosus other than the white?"


Had I asked that question, Roger, I would have asked "other than the white


In this garden there have been three white-flowered forms of Crocus


The one which has been here the longest has the largest flowers of the
three. It is probably the white flowered form of the plant once grown under
the name Crocus speciosus 'aitchisonii'. This form 'aitchisonii' was/is
noted for very large flowers of indifferent color and with pointed tepals. 


A second one, this one the plant now commercially available from several
sources, has flowers very much like the first one - pure white - but a bit


The third one has white flowers which if examined carefully show a faint
flush of a darker color. It's the sort of color which a certain school of
garden writing is apt to describe as "skim milk" or "ashes of roses" and so


I share your exasperation over the very loose application of names to these
plants. Part of the problem may be our mistaken expectations. What I mean is
that we may be expecting plants whose flowers look different when in fact
the main differences in some of these cultivars may be bloom time. But in
years of buying these names I've never formed a firm opinion of what a given
name should bring. 


Several years ago from a British supplier I did receive plants of 'Oxonian'
which gave large, shapely dark "blue" flowers which were very handsome and


I would not want to be in the business of trying to supply these forms true
to name: they seed so prolifically that maintaining clonal stocks would be
very difficult.


I think this is a case where the buyer can expect to be disappointed when
buying these cultivars from brokers. Buy, if possible, from the grower -
then at least you know with whom you can discuss the discrepancies. 


Two more recent cultivars or forms, the 'Aino' mentioned by Jim Waddick and
the subspecies xantholaimos are offered; repeat orders of these seem to
bring the same item, so these stocks are still probably relatively pure.
'Aino' is presumably a clone and so should not vary much; xantholaimos,
which corresponds to a wild population, might prove variable. 



Jim McKenney

Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where today I collected a
pointy-tepalled form of Crocus kotschyanus from a local garden. 


My Virtual Maryland Garden


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