Colchicum

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Colchicum is the name of a genus of small flowering plants resembling crocuses and often confused with them. Common names for these plants include "autumn crocus" and "meadow saffron".

Plants of this genus are native to the eastern Mediterranean area (in fact, the name Colchicum comes from Colchis in Turkey). While they are poisonous, C. autumnale was used for the treatment of gout since medieval times. The substance colchicine, first extracted from this plant, is still used for this purpose. Colchicine is also used to induce polyploidy in plants to aid in creating new varieties.

Like crocuses, Colchicums are popular ornamental plants, growing from underground corms (bulbs). Unlike the crocus, a Colchicum corm flowers once in the fall, then produces foliage in the spring, and then dies, but a new corm is formed in time for the next flowering. The plant produces seeds in the summer, which are dispersed by ants.