Colchicum

Colchicum is a large genus in the Colchicaceae family found in Europe, North Africa and western to central Asia. They are all winter growers. There are both autumn and spring flowering species. Some of the autumn ones flower before their leaves appear. There is much confusion over the correct names of plants in the literature and misnaming in the trade as well so people will be growing plants under the wrong names. Many so-called species in cultivation are clones of hybrid or of uncertain origin. Many of the species do not have flowers and leaves at the same time which makes wild collection for herbarium specimens a challenge. We attempt on this page to be as accurate as we can be, but until there is a revision which name is correct will be a matter of opinion. Colchicum photos on this page and the hybrids page taken by Arnold Trachtenberg are grown in his New Jersey garden, planted in garden soil augmented with 50% grit.

Colchicum are notoriously difficult and slow to grow from seeds because the seeds will not sprout without summer heat treatment and a cool down period during the autumn. Diana Chapman provided the following valuable tips for successful germination. Seeds should be sown fresh in a well-drained mix, covered with one of two cm of grit or course sand. Keep the mix slightly moist during the warm days of the summer. It is best to leave the seeds outdoors where they can experience the summer heat and fluctuations in temperature. In the fall, water well and allow the seeds to germinate. Some species may take two years to germinate so keep your pots for at least 2 years. Sporadic germination had been observed by gardeners after many years. Some growers have good success with soaking the seeds 1-2 days before sowing. This can be done by simply soaking in a bowl of water or placing the seeds in a stocking, tie the end and placed into a toilet bowl (water reservoir). Every flushing will wash away the inhibitors and allows the seeds to germinate.

The paper "Effects of Stratification, Temperature and Light On Seed Germination of Colchicum Macrophyllum B. L. Burtt", by Anna Antonidaki-Giatromanolaki, Magdalena Dragassaki, Michael Papadimitriou, and Ioannis Vlah, Vol. 8, № 2, 2008: 105-107, Propagation of Ornamental Plants, concludes that the seeds need a warm moist period (eight weeks at 20 °C) followed by a move to cooler temperatures (10-15 °C) and darkness for germination.

Most authorities say that Colchicum grow from corms - sometimes this is debated. The genus takes its name from Colchis which in ancient times was an area near the modern day Republic of Georgia. A toxic chemical 'colchicine' is contained in some species; it has been used as a treatment for gout; it is also used to produce triploid and tetraploid mutations in the seeds of some plants.

Taxonomic changes proposed by Manning, Forest & Vinnersten (2007) suggested that Androcymbium be included in Colchicum. However, inclusion of Androcymbium into the already large genus Colchicum was made for "practical" reasons. The authors stated that there were no morphological characters that separated certain groups of Androcymbium found by molecular evidence. We await a full revision of the genus Androcymbium and until such a revision occurs, we will keep the genus Androcymbium separated from Colchicum based on their morphological classification. The Plant List continues to recognize Androcymbium as an accepted genus. On the other hand, the South African Biodiversity Institute now lists South African species under Colchicum. We have added Androcymbium species to the table below, but information about them is found on the Androcymbium wiki page. Photos below illustrate some of those species.

Androcymbium burchellii, syn. Colchicum coloratum ssp. burchellii, Alan HorstmannAndrocymbium dregei, syn. Colchicum dregei, Alessandro MarinelloAndrocymbium latifolium, syn. Colchicum coloratum ssp. coloratum, Middelpos, Bob RutemoellerAndrocymbium longipes, syn. Colchicum longipes, Tiffendell, Cameron McMasterAndrocymbium palaestinum, syn. Colchicum palaestinum,  in the Jordan Valley, Oron PeriAndrocymbium striatum, syn. Colchicum striatum, Tiffendell, Cameron McMaster
For comparison, the photos below show a few of the species more commonly considered to be representative of this genus.
Colchicum autumnale, John LonsdaleColchicum boissieri, Jane McGaryColchicum cupanii, Angelo PorcelliColchicum hungaricum album, John LonsdaleColchicum sanguicolle, Jane McGaryColchicum umbrosum, Arnold Trachtenberg

For more photos and information and photographs of Colchicum select one of the following wiki pages:

The table below shows species of Colchicum, as well as other genera proposed to be merged with Colchicum as outlined above:
Colchicum Species
Colchicum antilibanoticum, Gideon Pisanty [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum antilibanoticum
Androcymbium austrocapense, Gottfried Milkuhn [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum austrocapense
Colchicum autumnale, Nhu Nguyen [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum autumnale
Colchicum baytopiorum, Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum baytopiorum
Colchicum bivonae, Bill Dijk [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum bivonae
Colchicum boissieri, Jane McGary [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum boissieri
Colchicum speciosum, Janos Agoston [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum bornmuelleri
Colchicum brachyphyllum, Gideon Pisanty [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum brachyphyllum
Bulbocodium vernum, David Pilling [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum bulbocodium
Colchicum byzantinum, Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum byzantinum
Androcymbium capense, Rod Saunders [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum capense ssp. capense
Androcymbium ciliolatum, Gottfried Milkuhn [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum capense ssp. burchellii
Colchicum cilicicum, Travis Owen [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum cilicicum
Androcymbium burchellii, Mary Sue Ittner [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum coloratum ssp. burchellii
Androcymbium latifolium with Romulea subfistulosa, Middelpos, Bob Rutemoeller [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum coloratum ssp. coloratum
Colchicum cupanii, Angelo Porcelli [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum cupanii
Androcymbium dregei, Alessandro Marinello [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum dregei
Androcymbium eucomoides, Gottfried Milkuhn [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum eucomoides
Androcymbium_europaeum1GM, Gottfried Milkuhn [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum europaeum
Colchicum feinbruniae, Peter Taggart [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum feinbruniae
Colchicum cupanii var. glossophyllum, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum glossophyllum
Colchicum graecum, Peter Taggart [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum graecum
Colchicum hierosolymitanum, Jane McGary [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum hierosolymitanum
Colchicum hirsutum, Peter Taggart [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum hirsutum
Colchicum hungaricum album, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum hungaricum
Colchicum kesselringii, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum kesselringii
Colchicum kotschyi, Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum kotschyi
Colchicum kurdicum, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum kurdicum
Colchicum laetum, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum laetum
Colchicum leptanthum, Peter Taggart [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum leptanthum
Androcymbium longipes, Tiffendell, Cameron McMaster [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum longipes
Colchicum lusitanum, Angelo Porcelli [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum lusitanum
Colchicum luteum, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum luteum
Colchicum macrophyllum, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum macrophyllum
Merendera montana, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum montanum
Colchicum munzurense, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum munzurense
Colchicum neapolitanum, Angelo Porcelli [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum neapolitanum
Androcymbium palaestinum in the Jordan Valley, Oron Peri [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum palaestinum
Colchicum pannonicum, Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum pannonicum
Colchicum persicum, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum persicum
Colchicum procurrens, Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum procurrens
Colchicum pusillum, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum pusillum
Androcymbium rechingeri, Gottfried Milkuhn [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum rechingeri
Colchicum rhodopaeum, Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum rhodopaeum
Colchicum ritchii, Gideon Pisanty [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum ritchii
Colchicum sanguicolle, Jane McGary [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum sanguicolle
Colchicum serpentinum, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum serpentinum
Colchicum sibthorpii, Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum sibthorpii
Merendera sobolifera flower, Jim McKenney [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum soboliferum
Colchicum speciosum, September 2014, Travis Owen [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum speciosum
Colchicum sp., John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum sp.
Colchicum stevenii, Gideon Pisanty [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum stevenii
Androcymbium striatum, Tiffendell, Cameron McMaster [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum striatum
Colchicum szovitsii, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum szovitsii
Colchicum szovitsii, Jane McGary [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum szovitsii 'Tivi'
Colchicum tenorii, Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum tenorii
Merendera candidissima, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum trigynum
Colchicum troodi, Gideon Pisanty [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum troodi
Colchicum tuviae, Gideon Pisanty [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum tuviae
Colchicum umbrosum, Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum umbrosum
Colchicum variegatum, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum variegatum
Bulbocodium vernum, David Pilling [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum vernum
Androcymbium volutare, Cameron McMaster [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum volutare

† Includes synonyms and links to the new genera.
‡ Species with this mark may or may not be considered to be Colchicum in the strictest sense by all taxonomists.


This table shows selections and hybrids of Colchicum:
Colchicum Hybrids and Selections
Colchicum × agrippinum, John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum × agrippinum
Colchicum 'Autumn Herald', Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum 'Autumn Herald'
Colchicum autumnale 'Album', John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum autumnale 'Album'
Colchicum autumnale 'Alboplenum', Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum autumnale 'Alboplenum'
Colchicum autumnale 'Pleniflorum', Janos Agoston [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum autumnale 'Pleniflorum'
Colchicum bivonae 'Apollo', Wayne Crist [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum bivonae 'Apollo'
Colchicum 'Conquest', Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum 'Conquest'
Colchicum 'Dick Trotter', Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum 'Dick Trotter'
Colchicum 'E.A. Bowles', Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum 'E.A.Bowles'
Colchicum 'Harlequin', Jane McGary [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum 'Harlequin'
Colchicum 'Innocence', Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum 'Innocence'
Colchicum 'Lilac Wonder', Travis Owen [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum 'Lilac Wonder'
Colchicum 'Princess Astrid', Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum 'Princess Astrid'
Colchicum 'Rosy Dawn', Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum 'Rosy Dawn'
Colchicum speciosum 'Album' with bee, Mary Sue Ittner [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum speciosum 'Album'
Colchicum speciosum 'Atrorubens', Arnold Trachtenberg [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum speciosum 'Atrorubens'
Colchicum szovitsii 'Snow White', John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum szovitsii 'Snow White'
Colchicum szovitsii 'Vardaovit', John Lonsdale [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum szovitsii 'Vardaovit'
Colchicum 'Waterlily', Janos Agoston [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Colchicum 'Waterlily'

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Page last modified on June 21, 2015, at 07:12 AM