Regularity: Regularly occurring
Habitat and Ecology
Foodplant / parasite
linear sorus of Urocystis colchici parasitises live leaf of Colchicum vernum
Foodplant / parasite
linear sorus of Urocystis colchici parasitises live leaf of Colchicum autumnale
Foodplant / parasite
amphigenous telium of Uromyces colchici parasitises live leaf of Colchicum autumnale
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Colchicum autumnale
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Colchicum autumnale
Public Records: 7
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
There have been some declines mainly as a result of agricultural intensification, for example in Ukraine. However, in its core distribution area, such as in parts of Germany and Austria, populations have increased recently.
The species is known to occur in semi-natural grasslands in Austria and Germany where, as it is toxic to livestock, control measures may even be attempted (Winter et al. 2013) which may pose a threat to local populations.
Agri-environment schemes that support low input agriculture may in this way promote population growth (Jung et al. 2011).
Colchicum autumnale, commonly known as autumn crocus, meadow saffron or naked lady, is a flower that resembles the true crocuses, but blooms in autumn. (This is not a reliable distinction, however, since many true crocuses flower in autumn.) The name "naked lady" comes from the fact that the flowers emerge from the ground long after the leaves have died back.
The species is commonly cultivated as an ornamental in temperate areas.
Colchicum autumnale is the only species of its genus native to the United Kingdom, with notable populations under the stewardship of the County Wildlife Trusts. It also occurs across mainland Europe from Portugal to Ukraine, and is reportedly naturalized in Denmark, Sweden, European Russia, the Baltic States and New Zealand.
The bulb-like corms of Colchicum autumnale contain colchicine, a useful drug with a narrow therapeutic index. Colchicine is approved by the US FDA for the treatment of gout and familial Mediterranean fever. Colchicine is also used in plant breeding to produce polyploid strains. A synthetic chemical compound, called ICT2588, which is similar to one from the autumn crocus, is in the early stages of drug development for the treatment of some types of cancer. In experimental testing it was successfully used to treat breast, bowel, lung and prostate cancers in mice when used in combination with the drug doxorubicin.
Colchicum plants have been mistaken by foragers for ramsons, which they vaguely resemble, but are deadly poisonous due to their colchicine content. The symptoms of colchicine poisoning resemble those of arsenic, and no antidote is known.
Colchicum autumnale by Auguste Faguet
Detail of flower at the United States Botanic Gardens
Colchicum autumnale Limana, (Valmorel), Italy
- Linnaeus, Carl von. 1753. Species Plantarum 1: 341, Colchicum autumnale
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Colchicum autumnale
- "BSBI List 2007" (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
- Gajic. 1977. Glasnik prirodnaučkog museja u Beogradu, Serija B, Bioloake nauke Nauke 32: 8. Colchicum autumnale
- Battison, Leila (2011-09-12). "BBC News - British flowers are the source of a new cancer drug". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
- Atkinson, Jennifer M.; Falconer, Robert A.; Edwards, Dylan R.; Pennington, Caroline J.; Siller, Catherine S.; Shnyder, Steven D.; Bibby, Michael C.; Patterson, Laurence H. et al. (2010). "Development of a Novel Tumor-Targeted Vascular Disrupting Agent Activated by Membrane-Type Matrix Metalloproteinases". Cancer Research 70 (17): 6902–12. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-1440. PMC 2933508. PMID 20663911.
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