Crocus (Crocus oreocreticus)

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Crocus oreocreticus flower
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Crocus fact file

Crocus description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassLiliopsida
OrderAsparagales
FamilyIridaceae
GenusCrocus (1)

Crocuses are beautiful dwarf plants in which a single terminal flower develops on the end of a tube, with the true stem remaining below ground until the seeds ripen (2). The cup-shaped flowers have six petals in two overlaying sets of three, with the outer set often slightly larger (2). This species produces pale purple flowers with darker veins and a silvery exterior to the three outer petals (2) (3). Within the flower, the pollen-bearing anthers are a conspicuous yellow and the long style divides into three bright red or deep orange branches (2) (3). C. oreocreticus is closely related to C. cartwrightianus, and it has been argued that its small differences may not justify separate species status (3). Besides being found at higher altitudes, C. oreocreticus can most easily be distinguished from C. cartwrightianus by the silvery-white sheen to its exterior (3).

Size
Height: up to 15 cm (2)
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Crocus biology

Crocuses are perennial plants with an underground storage system in the form of a corm, which keeps them alive during the dry season when the plants are dormant (2). A completely new corm then develops on top of the old one during the next growing season (2). The flowers of C. oreocreticus bloom in autumn, which are then pollinated by insects, bees, moths and beetles (2), and eventually produce red seeds (3).

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Crocus range

Native to the mountains of eastern Crete, Greece (4).

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Crocus habitat

Open rocky mountainsides over limestone (2).

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Crocus status

Classified as Rare on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Plant Species 1997 (1).

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Crocus threats

The threats to this species are unknown.

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Crocus conservation

C. oreocreticus appears on the endangered list of the Greek Red Book and is strictly protected under international law (4). As such, the plant cannot be picked, dug up or otherwise threatened, and its habitat is also protected (4). Additionally, a charity called FloraCretica has been established on Crete which aims to educate the general public, both Greek and visitors, about the plight of Crete’s endangered flora and to encourage the protection of unique and ancient habitats (5). As part of this objective, the organisation is in negotiation with hotels in various parts of the island trying to get them to donate a small area of their land to be maintained as a natural garden, in which seeds and bulbs rescued from destruction elsewhere can be replanted (5). FloraCretica have taken the beautiful, rare and endemic C. oreocreticus as their logo, which will appear on promotional leaflets and posters (5). Thus, the species is receiving good publicity, encouraging pride in the island’s native flora whilst at the same time promoting the need and responsibility of everybody to help preserve it.

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Find out more

For more information on this species see:

Crocus Pages:
http://www.thealpinehouse.fsnet.co.uk/crocus%20pages/

Tutin, T.G., Heywood, V.H., Burges, N.A. & Valentine, D.H. (1980) Flora Europaea: Alismataceae to Orchidaceae Vol 5. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

For more information on FloraCretica see:
http://in-crete.110mb.com/floracretica/

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Anther
Part of the stamen (the male reproductive organ of a flower) that produces pollen.
Corm
A bulblike stem, which, unlike a true bulb, is solid and sends down a root when the new growing season begins.
Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Perennial
Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.
Style
An elongatedpart of the female reproductive organs of a flower that bears the stigma (the receptive area where pollen germinates), usually at its tip.
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References

  1. Walter, K.S. and Gillett, H.J. (1998) 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants. IUCN (The World Conservation Union), Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  2. Crocus Pages (April, 2006)
    http://www.thealpinehouse.fsnet.co.uk/crocus%20pages/
  3. Tutin, T.G., Heywood, V.H., Burges, N.A. and Valentine, D.H. (1980) Flora Europaea: Alismataceae to Orchidaceae Vol 5. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  4. Cretan-homes.com (April, 2006)
    http://www.cretan-homes.com/newsletternovemberJuliaandTomFeise.htm
  5. Planta Europa (April, 2006)
    http://www.plantaeuropa.org/floracretica.htm
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Image credit

Crocus oreocreticus flower  
Crocus oreocreticus flower

© Julia Jones

Julia Jones
Albion House
Odos Filellinon
Pano Elounda 72053
Crete
Greece
Tel: +30 (00) 28410 42177
julia@flowersofcrete.info
http://www.flowersofcrete.info

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