Fri, 07 Nov 2014 20:30:38 PST
In the fall of 2013 I bought a few bags of much discounted saffron corms, already well into growth, pretty much out of pity for the hopelessness of their situation and a tiny bit curious as well. Upon arriving home I promptly planted them at the edges of a raised bed which is irrigated with a soaker hose in the middle, which leaves the edges relatively dry in summer. Many herbaceous perennials and reseeding annuals share this bed throughout the year. 

The Crocus were planted immediately into the bed, which is entirely compost, with a few handfuls of sand. The leaves, which were well into growth already, continued growth through winter into spring to about 12" before drying up in summer. Due to the settling around the edges of the bed, some of the corms migrated to a shallower position, and did not flower, but instead became a cluster of tiny non-flowering corms. The ones which remained deep flowered well, twice each at an interval. Shen the leaves die down I will replant them all to deeper locations and see if there is a difference next fall.

A quick read through the Wikipedia entry on Saffron yields some interesting facts. One is that Crocus sativus is a much selected clone of one of a few species or a hybrid of the species, selected for a long stigmas. The other fact is that it is pollen sterile, which could have happened from repeated inbreeding. Just a guess.
This brings to my mind a perplexing question. Dutch growers often retire certain cultivars that cease to grow well once the clones acquire too many viruses (King Alfred). Is it really possible that a single saffron clone could go on for thousands of years without acquiring too many viruses, or even just succumbing to old age? Perhaps old age IS why they don't flower easily for everyone.
It would be interesting to see the genetics mapped of Crocus sativus from different sources around the world.

Sorry for the long rant, I'm just puzzled.

Rogue River, OR

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