Friday, May 22, 2009

Flower Focus I: Crocus

Now that spring has sprung in our horribly cold climate, I do enjoy my little croci that pop up wherever they can & give a little colour to the beds in the spring.
The crocus is genus of flowers that were originally found in southern Europe and the Middle East. A few species are hardy to Canadian Zone 2, and most will naturalize (aka multiply year after year) so that they turn out to be a very good investment in your garden. A spring flower (although in Alberta we use the word “spring” lightly), it comes in a multitude of colours (blue, purple, pink, white) and sizes. In my garden I have 2 species of true croci.
The crocus belongs to the iris family. Included in the iris family are (obviously) irises, gladioli, and freesia.

Saffron (the bits you use in cooking to give taste and colour) comes from a section of the girly reproductive bits (stigmas) of a specific species of croci that is commercially grown in Iran, Spain, Kashmir, Greece, Azerbaijan, Morocco, and Italy. It is used in cooking all over the world (but well known in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking).

Saffron (Crocus sativus)

So the next time you are eating any meal with saffron, you now know what you are eating. BTW, saffron is one of the most expensive herbs/spices that are available on the market because each stigma is hand picked. There are millions that need to be picked to make a little bit of seasoning.

I will try and regularly spotlight different plants/flowers that I am growing currently (or would like to grow when more space is made available. People regularly believe that choices are limited waaaayyyy up here & growing plants is hard. It's not. I don't water ever & I only pick weeds when I remember :)

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