Crocus speciosus

Crocus speciosus – Bieberstein’s crocus

Brilliant, finely branched orange stamens rising from vibrant purple-blue petals with a yellow throat.


This is a gorgeous true crocus that flowers in the autumn before the leaves emerge, growing to some 10-15cm and forming clumps over time. It is said to be suitable for naturalising in grass, though that may be a Northern European thing where the grass has stopped growing in September when C. speciosus flowers there. The flowers are large and do not stand up well to heavy rain. Flowers will remain closed on cloudy days.


Crocus speciosus is native to an area from Turkey across to Northern Iran. However, there are three subspecies as well as a range of cultivars. So the plant provided to gardeners can be variable, especially in the colour of the petals and the definition of the veins. It was first described by the Russian naturalist Friedrich August Marschall von Bieberstein in the early nineteenth century.

Soil / Aspect:

In it’s native habitat C. speciosus grows in woods and open hillsides experiencing cold winters and warm, sometimes rainy (but never soggy) summers. It requires a well drained spot that does not dry out completely in summer – so avoid full-sun in Coastal Tasman. Also, it is best grown in bare ground as it does not compete well with other plants, though dappled shade under a shrub such as Azalea is ideal.


This is a peaceable plant that likes to left alone in its private spot. It’s main danger in Karin’s Garden is probably being accidentally dug up or overplanted when it is dormant. It does appreciate feeding with a liquid fertiliser after flowering.