The crocus is seen as a harbinger of spring, so why do these flowers appear in the fall? In fact, they are not a type of crocus, but are colchicums. Colchicum is a genus of perennial flowering plants that are varied and widespread, with about 160 species native to West Asia, Europe, and the East African coast down to South Africa. The ovary of the flower is underground having a long upright style, often more that 4 inches long, supporting pale pinkish to purple petals..

Common names of the colchicums include autumn crocus and naked lady. These names refer to their “naked” crocus-like flowers that appear in late summer or autumn, long before the strap-like foliage that appears in spring.

We see the colchicums below in late September near the new Rodgersia Steps that connect Bardo’s Path to the upper Rhododendron Garden. These new steps were funded in part by generous donations from members of the Friends of Hendricks Park, including some made in memory of Greg Lobbissier.