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Botanical Data
General Information
Picture Gallery
Flower pH indicator
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Visitor hits (Dec/03)

Species name: Crocus longiflorus
Closely Related Species:Crocus medius; Crocus nudiflorus; Crocus biflorus
Common name: Crocus Longiflorus (no English name)
Maltese name: Zaghfran Salvagg
Plant Family: Iridaceae
Name Derivation: Crocus = saffron (latin);
longiflorus = long flowered, referring to the long neck of the flower (latin).

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Botanical Data
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Characteristic Structure: Cross sectional shape Hair or Thorns
Description Erect but without a true aerial stem:
Erect flower stalk(s) and leaves grow directly from the true underground stem such as rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs.
(no true stem)
(no true stem)
General Picture (No Pic) (No Pic)

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Characteristic Arrangement Attachment to Stem Venation
Description No particular arrangement
Single leaves grow directly from underground corm
No attachment
(No true stem)
Singular, parallel
One prominent white mid-vein along leaf axis
General Picture (No Pic) (No Pic) (No Pic)
Characteristic Leaf Shape Leaf Outline Width
Description Ensiform:
Sword shape, hence long, straight, thin and pointed at tip
Smooth, even margin lacking teeth or other indentations.
Only 2 - 3mm
General Picture (No Pic) (No Pic)

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Characteristic Colour Basic Flower Type No. of Petals No. of Sepals
Description Lilac to Violet
Flower made up of free distinct petals.
General Picture
(No Pic) (No Pic)
Characteristic Inflorescence Description Petal Shape Stamen
Description Single terminal:
Single flower at end of the stem or stalk.

The flower briefly consists of 6 distinct petals of lilac / violet colour which have dark purple veins more prominent at the outside face. The petals then constrict and form a tube like structure - the neck of the flower - which runs further down to the underground corm where the ovaries are located. At the constriction region (the throat), there is a yellow ring. There are 3 bright yellow long stamens and a orange-red style which divides into 3 branches each having a lobulate terminal where the stigma are present.
Oval shape and slightly elongated
General Picture (No Pic) (No Pic) (No Pic)
Characteristic Scent Average Flower Size Pollen Colour Pollen Shape
Description YES
Sweet and quite strong honey-like scent
30mm approx.
(When fully open)
Bright yellow 
(Data coming soon)
General Picture (No Pic) (No Pic) (No Pic) (No Pic)

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Characteristic No. Per Fruit Shape & Size Colour
Description N/A
(When present, seeds are underground and very difficult to locate)

Data unavailable

Data unavailable
General Picture (No Pic) (No Pic) (No Pic)

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Characteristic Shape of Fruit Colour of Ripe Fruit Subterranean Parts Other Notes
Description Small operculate capsule
A dry, round-shaped fruit which breaks up open when the seeds are ripe

(Data coming soon)
Bulb-like stem, which, unlike a true bulb, is solid and sends down a root when the new growing season begins.

Since the fruit is found underground or just on the ground, it is very difficult to locate it, especially due presence of other high plants.
General Picture (No Pic) (N/A)

Plant Description
Life Cycle: Perennial
Habitat: Stony or rocky places in grassland, usually over limestone at up to 1900m. Plant prefers direct sunlight.
Sources in Malta: Dingli
Plant Height: 15cm
Flowering Time: Oct - mid Dec
Poison: No
This low (10cm approx) perennial grows from underground brown and fibrous corms. Around the start of Autumn, the vegetative corm start developing the reproductive flower. The flower grows directly from the corm with no real stalks or stems. The leaves also grow slowly directly from the corm and strangely they develop fully just at or after blossoming of the flowers.

The leaves, are variably long - about 5-10cm, thin (2 to 3mm), entire outline and have a characteristic central white stripe running longitudinally along the leaf axis. The shape of these leaves are sometimes described as ensiform, hence sword-blade shape.

If the leaf is simple, the flower is not! It is highly coloured, sweet scented, and attractive. It is made up of 6 petals of a pale violet / lilac colour, but no sepals. At the outer side there is a pattern of pinnate dark-violet/purple veins which are less prominent at the inside part of the petal. The petals are mostly un-fused, but they constrict and then join at the 'base' of the flower to form a thin tube which goes further down under the soil to the corn. At about half way. the tube is protected by a whitish / pale green sheath which covers the and support the flower neck.

At the zone where the petals constrict to form a tube, hence at a region referred to as the throat, there is a yellow coloration, more prominent from inside of the flower, but still noticable from the exterior. At the throat region, 3 stamens are joined 3 petals alternately. The stamens are erect and rod-shaped and are bright yellow in colour. The female part is more contrasting, having a bright orange-red colour, prominent, and at a point the main style divides to three branches which have short lobed ends, where the stigma are present. The style goes down the flower neck until it reaches the ovary located under the soil.

The ovaries develop to a seed capsule (the fruit) which may emerge to the surface and open up when the seeds are ripe. The fruit is very difficult to locate or find. Apart that they may be partly or just submerged in the soil, they are brown like the soil and quite small. Other wild plants would also cover most of the soil surface in Winter.

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Additional Information
Sub-endemic species
This plant is found in few places around the central Mediterranean region and so it is nearly an endemic species to Malta, or what is referred to as sub-endemic. Apart from Malta it is only found in Egadi islands (West of Sicily), some parts of Sicily and South Italy mostly in Calabria, Murge, Basilic. a Serraneta, Pollino, Sila, Rosarno, Mongiana, Serra S, R nel Salern. (Monte di Stella, Monte Sacro), Bruno and also in Dalmazia. Reports that it was seen in Tunisia, were false. [WWW-42]

MarZ Observations

Species in danger of disappearing from the Maltese islands
It has been reported by many botanists, namely E. Lanfranco [300] that this plant is continually decreasing in number from our islands, mainly due to land management and bad disposing of rubble in the environment. It is very difficult to resist the temptation of not picking up this wonderful, colourful and scented flower, but bear in mind that this species is in danger of disappearing from our country and must NOT BE PICKED UP at all costs. Apart from the fact that the plant is attractive and scented, another factor which acts against the plant is that it grows low and one is more encouraged to cut it up to look and smell it better. Additionally each individual plant may develop only 2 - 3 flowers in its life cycle and so it is more important to leave the flowers to perform their reproductive process. Unfortunately, seed production and dispersion in the wild is not much effective for this plant either.

Grown ups should educate their children too to start caring about our fragile environment. They can pick up for example lellux and haxixa ingliza instead, even if ideally they should not either! Again, please DO NOT PICK UP this wild, sub-endemic, en-dangered, flowering plant. [SM]

Picture Gallery
Photo of the colourful flower in situ Photo of flower at an angle to show better its bright yellow stamens, orange-red stigma and yellow throat (constriction base of flower) Photo of flower taken from Top view photo of flower taken from

Flower pH Indicator Properties
No flowers where collected for this study so as to protect this rare plant
pH Turning points: 1__
Interpretation of Result: 2__
Conclusion: 3__

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Further Information and Links
> The Pleasure of Crocuses by Charlie Challenger > Photo gallery of several Crocus species 1 (
> More info on crocuses as a garden ornament plant > Photo gallery of several Crocus species 2 (
>General information about the Crocus Genus

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