Colchicum byzantinum and friends

John Grimshaw
Sat, 03 Oct 2009 08:07:46 PDT
A number of points to reply to Jim McKenney's response.

1) Jim does not see the similarity between normal C. byzantinum (the ancient 
clone, certainly not a species) and C. 'Innocence' - I do, and indeed the 
images on the wiki page show, to my mind, their extremely close 
similarities. Indeed, one flower of 'Innocence' actually shows a streak of 
pink that strongly suggests to me that it is some sort of chimaeral sport 
from byzantinum. I've grown C. byzantinum for nearly 30 years, and known 
'Innocence' for 25+, and all my observations suggest their close 

2) The 'other byzantinum' Jim describes, with longer but narrower segments, 
is also commonly grown here, without a satisfactory name, though it is 
sometimes erroneously labelled C. laetum. I see that the RHS Plant Finder 
refers "C. laetum misapplied" to C. parnassicum but on what grounds I don't 
know. It is an excellent free-flowering plant, which I've also grown for 30 
years - came as a novelty bulb to flower dry on the windowsill.

3) The relationship between C. byzantinum with C. cilicicum is curious: they 
do seem to be connected, but it would be interesting to see what DNA 
analysis of the two taxa revealed.

It has to be said that Colchicum nomenclature and its relationship to the 
actual entities is a nightmare, and the presence of ancient sterile plants 
masquerading as species doesn't help.

John Grimshaw

Dr. John M. Grimshaw
Sycamore Cottage
GL53 9NP

Tel. 01242 870567

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