by Stephen Mifsud
   24 Jun 2024      ()
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Romulea bulbocodium   (Mediterranean sand crocus)

Romulea bulbocodium  (IRIDACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from south east of parts of Sicily including Modica, Cava d'Ispica, Vendicari nature reserve (2010-2017)

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General Information Species Images
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Detailed species profile
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Profile Date Feb-2010 (taxon update: none)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Romulea bulbocodium - datasheet created on Feb-2010. Retrieved from on 24-Jun-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Romulea bulbocodium(L.) Sebast. & Mauri
Published in Fl. Rom. 17 (1818)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Crocus bulbocodium L.
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Iridaceae Juss. (The Iris Family)
23 species from the Iridaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Mediterranean sand crocus

Maltese name(s) :

Żagħfran tal-blat kbir

Status for Malta :

Doubtful origin. It is not yet established if this species is native or not.

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare     Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: GEOPHYTE ( bearing underground bulbs, rhizomes, stolons, etc. )
Germination [info]: Monocotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

February – March

Colour of Flowers:



Not particularly toxic

Name Derivation :

Romulea: A Genus named for Romulus, a legendary leader of the Romans and founder of Rome. (Roman origin ); 2 = Further Info: [1] [2].

Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Remarks :

Recorded from Malta only in the late 19th century and never reconfirmed again few decades after strongly suggested it was recorded by mistake. This species does not currently occur in Malta, whereas it is frequent in Sicily.

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Data will be available in the next update of this website.
Preferred habitat in Malta: Exposed rocky ground.
Botanical Description: Basal leaves 2, 5-30 cm × 0·8-2 mm, curved and procumbent or straight and ascending. Cauline leaves up to 5. Scape 1- to 6-flowered. Flowers very variable in colour; tube and throat usually yellow; segments white to lilac or violet, greenish or with 1-5 dark lines outside. Bract 1-2·1 cm, purplish or with reddish-brown dots, with a very narrow scarious margin. Bracteole equalling the bract but wider, acute, (obtuse when flattened out), scarious, or with a narrow green keel, brownish. Perianth (1-)2-3·5(5·5) cm; tube 3·5-8 mm; segments elliptical to oblong-oblanceolate, usually acute. Filaments hairy below; top of anthers reaching to about the middle of the segments or a little higher. Stigmas usually overtopping the anthers but variable in length
Chromosome number: 2n=34, 36, 42
Distributional range: Mediterranean region, extending to N.W. Spain and S. Bulgaria

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Albania, Bulgaria, Corse, Crete, France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Greece, Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), ex-Jugoslavia, Portugal, Sardinia, Sicily and/or Malta
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
AE(G) Ag Al Bu Co Cr Ga Gr Hs IJ It Ju LS Lu Ma Sa Si Tn Tu(A)

Links & Further literature (4 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




A review of Romulea Maratti (Iridaceae) in the Maltese Islands Stephen Mifsud  (2015)
Rediscovery and taxonomic analysis of Romulea melitensis (Iridaceae) from the Maltese islands Stephen Mifsud  (2021)
Assessment of Romulea variicolor for IUCN Redlist Stephen Mifsud  (2018)
Synopsis of Romulea (Fam. Iridaceae) on the Maltese Islands (Poster presentation for XV Optima Meeting) Stephen Mifsud  (2016)
Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (11 images)
   Romulea bulbocodium   -   Image Code: RMLBU-0.
   Romulea bulbocodium   -   Image Code: RMLBU-1.
   Romulea bulbocodium   -   Image Code: RMLBU-2.
   Romulea bulbocodium   -   Image Code: RMLBU-3.
   Romulea bulbocodium   -   Image Code: RMLBU-4.
   Romulea bulbocodium   -   Image Code: RMLBU-5.
   Romulea bulbocodium   -   Image Code: RMLBU-6.
   Romulea bulbocodium   -   Image Code: RMLBU-7.
   Romulea bulbocodium   -   Image Code: RMLBU-8.
   Romulea bulbocodium   -   Image Code: RMLBU-9.
   Romulea bulbocodium   -   Image Code: RMLBU-10.

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Section A:  Additional Information about this plant species
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Section B:   Where have you seen this plant on the Maltese Islands?
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Try to be as concise as possible. Examples: Dingli Cliffs (near chapel), Wied Incita (Zebbug side), Triq il-Kbira (Qormi), Barriera ta' Ghajn Abdul (Xlendi), Fields East of Salib tal-gholja (Siggiewi). GPS co-ordinates are also welcomed!
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