May 2016

Crocus nivalis Bory & Chaub.



C. nivalis is a Balkan species, growing mainly in grasslands and scrubs (from 400 to 2800 m) in Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania. This rather short geophyte is easily recognized by its purple flowers with the yellow throat, as well as the rather wide synanthus leaves, with the typical, for the genus, median pale stripe.

The plants flower from January to February, producing 1 to 3 flowers. Fruit set and maturation occur in late spring (usually in May). Seed capsules are xerochasic and seed yield per capsule is relatively low (c. 15 seeds/capsule). In nature, seedlings emerge in early winter, whereas the species is also reproduced by corms.

From the Minoan era, Crocuses are considered to be important plant species, mainly for their dyeing and ornamental value. They are symbols of encouragement and messengers of spring, since some Crocus species, such as C. nivalis, are the first plants flowering at the end of winter.

E. Skourti