Saffron crocus Crocus cartwrightianus

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
wild saffron


Crocus cartwrightianus, commonly known as the wild saffron crocus, presents itself with a beautiful and delicate appearance, typical of the crocus family. The plant blooms with striking flowers that are often admired for their ornamental value. The blooms are characterized by their radiant and typically purple petals, which sometimes can also be white or light mauve in color. At the center of each flower, the bright orange stigmas stand out prominently, providing a vivid contrast to the petals. These stigmas are notably significant as they are harvested to produce saffron. The flowers resemble a cup-like shape, cradling the reproductive organs within. Surrounding the stigmas, one can notice the lighter colored anthers, which add to the visual interest of the flower. The petals are slender and elongate, coming to a gentle taper at the tips, and they can often showcase delicate veining or color gradients that add depth to their appearance. The plant's foliage consists of slender, grass-like leaves that are green and sometimes have a stripe pattern. These leaves typically emerge either before or along with the flowers, creating a soft backdrop that accentuates the blooms. As the seasons change, the wild saffron crocus goes through a lifecycle that includes a period of dormancy, where the above-ground parts of the plant die back, leaving the corms (a type of bulb) underground until the next growing season.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Synonyms

      Wild Saffron Crocus, Ancient Saffron Crocus, Wild Crocus.

    • Common names

      Crocus orsinii, Crocus sativus var. cartwrightianus, Crocus sativus subsp. cartwrightianus, Crocus aschersonii, Crocus atlanticus.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Crocus cartwrightianus, commonly known as wild saffron, is not considered toxic to humans. Ingesting parts of this plant typically does not result in poisoning or adverse health effects when consumed in normal food amounts as saffron. However, consuming large quantities of any plant material can lead to digestive discomfort or other non-specific symptoms due to the presence of unfamiliar compounds.

    • To pets

      Wild saffron is not specifically listed as toxic to pets, but as with any plant, it is generally recommended to prevent pets from ingesting plants not intended for their consumption. While there's no widely recognized toxicity associated with Crocus cartwrightianus for pets, consumption of plant material can sometimes lead to mild gastrointestinal upset in animals, including symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea. It's always best to exercise caution and keep houseplants out of reach of pets.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm)

    • Spread

      1-3 inches (2.5-7.5 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Landscape beautification: Crocus cartwrightianus, commonly known as saffron crocus, adds vibrant color and beauty to gardens and landscapes with its purple or white flowers.
    • Early blooming: It blooms in autumn, providing an early source of color and interest in gardens after the summer bloomers have faded.
    • Cultural significance: The saffron crocus has historical importance since saffron, the spice derived from it, has been used for millennia in various cultures for culinary and dyeing purposes.
    • Wildlife attraction: The flowers of the Crocus cartwrightianus may attract pollinators such as bees during a time when fewer plants are in bloom.
    • Culinary use: The stigmas of the Crocus cartwrightianus are harvested to produce saffron, one of the most valuable and expensive spices in the world, used for flavoring and coloring food.
    • Ease of cultivation: It is relatively easy to grow in a range of temperate climates, with low maintenance needs once established.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Crocus cartwrightianus, commonly known as saffron crocus, is historically significant for its role in the development of the cultivated saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), which is a genetic descendant and widely used for saffron spice production.
    • Its bulbs can be used as food for certain specialized insects, creating an ecological niche within garden environments.
    • The flowers of the saffron crocus are sometimes used in the production of dyes, particularly for fabrics, though it is not as potent as its cultivated descendant.
    • This plant's flowers can be used in the creation of perfumes, as it can contribute a base note reminiscent of floral and honey undertones.
    • The saffron crocus is used in gardening to create a period of winter bloom, as it flowers in autumn, adding color to gardens when most other plants have died back or have not yet bloomed.
    • The dried stigmas of the plant, while not as potent as true saffron, can still be used for a subtle coloring in gourmet cooking, given its historical connection to true saffron.
    • In colder climates, the corms of the saffron crocus are sometimes used as a means of gardening education, to teach about bulb-specific growth and dormancy cycles.
    • The saffron crocus may be included in bird-friendly gardens as the bulbs and flowers can attract certain bird species that feed on the nectar or use the plants for shelter.
    • Artists have used the distinct form and vibrant color of the saffron crocus flowers as subjects in botanic illustration and nature photography, reflecting its aesthetic qualities.
    • Festival celebrations in regions where the saffron crocus is native may include the flower as part of traditional decorations or symbolism, celebrating the plant's historical significance and seasonal appearance.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The plant Saffron Crocus is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Saffron Crocus is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Renewal: Crocus cartwrightianus, commonly known as Saffron crocus, often blooms in autumn, symbolizing the start of a new cycle and the return of life after a period of dormancy.
    • Youthfulness: The Saffron crocus's delicate structure and early flowering period represent youth and joy.
    • Hope: As one of the first flowers to bloom when temperatures rise, it is a sign of hope and the coming of spring.
    • Cheerfulness: The bright colors of the Saffron crocus are often associated with cheerfulness and happiness.
    • Wealth: Saffron, the spice derived from Crocus cartwrightianus, is one of the most expensive spices by weight, hence it represents wealth and prosperity.
    • Spiritual Insight: In some cultures, the rarity and value of saffron have given this plant associations with spiritual enlightenment and wisdom.

When soil is dry
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 3-4 years
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    Saffron crocus (Crocus cartwrightianus) should be watered sparingly, as overwatering can lead to bulb rot. During the growing season, in fall, water them when the top inch of soil feels dry, typically once a week, with approximately a quarter gallon of water per plant. After blooming and once the leaves start to yellow, gradually reduce watering as the plant enters dormancy. During dormancy in summer, watering should be very minimal or not at all, keeping the soil mostly dry.

  • sunLight

    Saffron crocus thrives in full sun to partial shade. To ensure healthy growth, plant them in a spot where they receive at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. They can also tolerate light dappled shade, but flowering might be less prolific without full sun exposure.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Saffron crocus prefers a temperate climate with chilly winters and hot summers. They can survive winter temperatures down to about 15°F, but ideally, they should not be exposed to prolonged periods below 20°F. The ideal temperature range for growing saffron crocus is between 35°F and 85°F, mimicking their natural Mediterranean climate.

  • scissorsPruning

    Saffron crocus does not require regular pruning. The only necessary pruning involves removing spent flowers and yellowing foliage after blooming is complete, which usually occurs in late fall. This helps prevent diseases and tidies up the plant. Dead foliage should be cut back to the ground once it has completely died down.

  • broomCleaning

    Not needed

  • bambooSoil

    Saffron crocus requires well-draining soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 8.0. The best soil mix can be made of equal parts sand, loamy garden soil, and compost to ensure proper drainage and fertility.

  • plantRepotting

    Saffron crocus bulbs should be lifted and divided every 3 to 5 years to maintain vigor and to prevent overcrowding.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Saffron crocus thrives best in dry conditions and does not require high humidity levels.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place in bright light, well-draining soil, cool temperature.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in well-drained soil, full sun to partial shade.

    • Hardiness zone

      6-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Crocus cartwrightianus, commonly known as wild saffron crocus, begins its life cycle as a bulb, which remains dormant underground during the hot and dry summer months. In the fall, when the temperature cools and moisture levels increase, the bulb awakens and sprouts thin, grass-like leaves and a flowering stalk. The flowers are generally white to pale purple with purple veins, blooming from late fall to early winter. Following pollination, usually by insects, the plant sets seed, which falls to the ground and can grow into new bulbs over time. After flowering, the leaves continue to photosynthesize and store energy in the bulb until late spring when the plant enters dormancy again as temperatures rise. The life cycle continues as the bulb remains dormant through another summer, preparing to emerge again in the fall.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time


    • Propogation: Crocus cartwrightianus, commonly known as the wild Crocus or Saffron Crocus, is typically propagated through its corms. The best time to propagate this plant is in late summer after the corms have gone dormant following their spring flowering cycle. To propagate, carefully unearth the corms and select the largest and healthiest ones for replanting. These corms should be planted around 3 to 4 inches deep (about 7.5 to 10 centimeters) and spaced approximately 3 inches apart (approximately 7.5 centimeters) in well-draining soil that receives full to partial sunlight. Water the newly planted corms moderately to establish them. Over time, these corms will produce offsets that can be separated and planted to propagate new plants.