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Crocus sieberi

Archive entry 21.01.10

5th March 2006

Twenty years ago I planted some spare bulbs out around the garden, and from time to time a flower pops up!

20th February 2009

21st January 2010

Crocus sieberi was first collected in Crete by Franz Sieber, a Czech naturalist (catching some winter sun). In 1831 the species was described formally and named in his honour by Jacques Gay. At the time the species was only known from the island, but it has since been found on mainland Greece and the Balkans. The subspecies from Crete, C.sieberi ssp sieberi has deep purple flowers and is uncommon in cultivation - it also likes a spot more winter sun than northern Europe delivers.
My plants are almost certainly C.sieberi ssp. atticus from mainland Greece with paler lilac flowers.
One of those things that I am delighted to find when it pops up in spring, and should probably plant in great drifts but never think about it when the biulb catalogues arrive. In the days when I was a student, this is one of the first plants that I dissected and drew as part of a course in plant morphology. The sense of peering intensely into its heart looking for the significant features lingers with me still. My drawings weren't particularly impressive and a vague sense of having failed the plant somehow means I am a little awkward around it. Strange the things that remain when so much of value has been forgotten!