Colchicum agrippinum – Autumn Crocus
Star-shaped petals with distinctive pink and white tesselation arise in late summer, long before the foliage.
This plant grows from corms and the leaves grow up to up to 25 cm; arising in spring, long after the crocus-like flowers have faded. The flowers have a distinct tessellation, or checker-board pattern, of pink and white, and the anthers have purple tips, which help to identify it. The short flower stems help to make this more resistant to wind and rain than other Colchicums. All parts of the plant are poisonous and are avoided by grazing rats, mice and deer.
The literature is unclear as the whether C. agrippinum is either; a species, originating in Greece and SW Turkey, or a hybrid of C. variegtum (also from Greece and Turkey) and C. autumnale which is native to GB and Ireland. Either way it holds the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the UK Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). To distinguish Colchicum from true Crocus that flower in the autumn:- Colchicums have 3 styles and 6 stamens, while crocuses have 1 style and 3 stamens.
Soil / Aspect:
In Greece and SW Turkey colchicums grow on rocky hillsides and their seed is said to require at least a month of cold stratification for successful germination. They require at least some sun to flower properly and are tolerant of frost. Its greatest danger in most gardens is being dug up inadvertently when it is not is leaf/flower.
Colchicum agrippinum is considered one of the easiest Colchicums to grow. It will bulk up over time, when they can be lifted and divided by hand when the flowers fade. I can find no reference to any pest problems.