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The Three Musketeers! | by antonychammond
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The Three Musketeers!

All for one and one for all the beauty of Spring! Taken in our garden at Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex.


Crocus (plural: crocuses or croci) is a genus of flowering plants in the iris family comprising 90 species of perennials growing from corms. Many are cultivated for their flowers appearing in autumn, winter, or spring. Crocuses are native to woodland, scrub, and meadows from sea level to alpine tundra in central and southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, on the islands of the Aegean, and across Central Asia to western China.


The name of the genus is derived from the Greek κρόκος (krokos). This, in turn, is probably a loan word from a Semitic language, related to Hebrew כרכום karkōm, Aramaic ܟܟܘܪܟܟܡܡܐ kurkama, and Arabic كركم kurkum, which mean "saffron" ( Crocus sativus), "saffron yellow" or turmeric (see Curcuma). The English name is a learned 16th-century adoption from the Latin, but Old English already had croh "saffron". The Classical Sanskrit कुङ्कुमं kunkumam "saffron" (Sushruta Samhita) is presumably also from the Semitic word.


Cultivation and harvesting of Crocus sativus for saffron was first documented in the Mediterranean, notably on the island of Crete. Frescos showing them are found at the Knossos site on Crete, as well as from the comparably aged Akrotiri site on Santorini.


The first crocus seen in the Netherlands, where crocus species are not native, were from corms brought back in the 1560s from Constantinople by the Holy Roman Emperor's ambassador to the Sublime Porte, Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq. A few corms were forwarded to Carolus Clusius at the botanical garden in Leiden. By 1620, the approximate date of Ambrosius Bosschaert's painting (illustration, below), new garden varieties had been developed, such as the cream-colored crocus feathered with bronze at the base of the bouquet, similar to varieties still on the market. Bosschaert, working from a preparatory drawing to paint his composed piece spanning the whole of spring, exaggerated the crocus so that it passes for a tulip, but its narrow, grass-like leaves give it away.


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Taken on January 30, 2006