Crocus cartwrightianus

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Crocus cartwrightianus
Crocus cartwrightianus Sounion 2.jpg
Scientific classification
C. cartwrightianus
Binomial name
Crocus cartwrightianus

Crocus cartwrightianus is a species of flowering plant in the family Iridaceae, native to Greece and Crete. It is a cormous perennial growing to 5 cm (2 in). The flowers, in shades of lilac or white with purple veins and prominent red stigmas, appear with the leaves in autumn and winter.[1]

The Latin specific epithet cartwrightianus refers to the 19th century British Consul to Constantinople, John Cartwright.[2]

C. cartwrightianus is the presumed wild progenitor of the domesticated triploid Crocus sativus – the saffron crocus.[3][4][5] Saffron's origin has been a matter of debate, probably appearing first in Greece, on the Attic peninsula,[6] or Crete. An origin in Western or Central Asia, although often suspected, has been disapproved by botanical research.[7]

This species is commonly found growing on limestone soil areas of the Attica Peninsula of Greece. There is evidence that this plant was cultivated in ancient Crete at least as early as the Middle Minoan Period, as exhibited by a mural, the "Saffron Gatherer", illustrating the gathering of crocuses.[8]

This plant,[9] and the cultivar 'Albus'[10] (with pure white flowers), have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

C. cartwrightianus 'Albus'


  1. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
  2. ^ Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. p. 224. ISBN 9781845337315.
  3. ^ M. Grilli Caiola - Saffron reproductive biology
  4. ^ Nemati, Zahra; Blattner, Frank R.; Kerndorff, Helmut; Erol, Osman; Harpke, Dörte (2018-10-01). "Phylogeny of the saffron-crocus species group, Crocus series Crocus (Iridaceae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 127: 891–897. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2018.06.036. ISSN 1055-7903. PMID 29936028.
  5. ^ Schmidt, Thomas; Heitkam, Tony; Liedtke, Susan; Schubert, Veit; Menzel, Gerhard. "Adding color to a century-old enigma: multi-color chromosome identification unravels the autotriploid nature of saffron (Crocus sativus) as a hybrid of wild Crocus cartwrightianus cytotypes". New Phytologist. 0 (ja). doi:10.1111/nph.15715. ISSN 1469-8137. PMID 30690735.
  6. ^ Blattner, Frank R.; Kerndorff, Helmut; Gemicioglu, Almila; Harpke, Doerte; Nemati, Zahra (2019-02-01). "Saffron (Crocus sativus) is an autotriploid that evolved in Attica (Greece) from wild Crocus cartwrightianus". bioRxiv: 537688. doi:10.1101/537688.
  7. ^ Plant. Syst. Evol., 128, 89, 1977
  8. ^ C.Michael Hogan, Knossos Fieldnotes, the Modern Antiquarian (2007)
  9. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Crocus cartwrightianus". Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  10. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Crocus cartwrightianus 'Albus'". Retrieved 17 June 2013.

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