CROCUS, generic name of a large number of hardy bulbous flowering plants of the family Iridaceae. Per Wendelbo and Brian Mathew have reported and fully described nine wild species of Crocus L. from Persia and some adjacent areas (pp. 2-11; see also Parsa, pp. 114-21; Wendelbo, pp. 60-63; Matine, pp. 3-4; Ghahreman, pls. 61, 93, 540, 541, 542, 1176; cf. Schlimmer, pp. 168-69).

Crocus almehensis Brickell & Mathew, found on Ālma mountain near Golestān national forest park in northeastern Gorgān.

Crocus biflorus Miller (according to Wendelbo and Mathew, often called Crocus aërius in connection with Persia; cf. Pārsā: C. aërius Herbert, identified as a distinct species found between Ḵosrowābād and Kerend in Kurdistan), which grows in the hills north of Tabrīz and around Qalāja in Kermānšāh.

Crocus michelsonii B. Fedtschenko, found on the steppes of northern Khorasan.

Crocus korolkowii Regel ex Maw, which grows in Afghanistan, western Pakistan, and Tajikistan.

Crocus caspius Fischer & Meyer, found from sea level to an altitude of 1,300 m in the southern Caspian region.

Crocus speciosus Marschall von Biberstein, found all over the southern Caspian region between altitudes of 1,000 and 1,800 m and in Tehran province on the southern side of the Alborz.

Crocus cancellatus Herbert, which grows on the stony hills and plains of the Zagros region at altitudes between 1,000 and 2,500 m; in the Lārḵāna alpine forest in Gīlān; around Lāhū in the Kalārdašt district; and in mountain forests between Šahsavār and Javāherdeh in Māzandarān.

Crocus haussknechtii Boissier, found around Kermānšāh and Hamadān, on the Dālekānī heights between them, and in Arāk, Oštorānkūh, Fārs, and so on; it is closely related to the cultivated saffron crocus (see below). According to Wendelbo (p. 62), the corms of both C. cancellatus and C. haussknechtii (jowqāsem in Golpāyagān) are collected in the spring and eaten boiled in milk or roasted.

Crocus gilanicus Mathew, found between Ḵalḵāl in Azerbaijan and Asālem in Gīlān.

In addition to these nine, Ahmad Parsa has reported Crocus ochroleucus Boissier & Gaillardot from Gīlān.

Finally, there is a species that is cultivated in Persia, Crocus sativus L. (= C. ofcinalis Pers.), which yields the well-known zaʿfarān (saffron).



F. Matine (Matīn), Liste des plantes de l’herbier d’Évine (Herbarium Ministerii Iranici Agriculturae). Iridaceae, Tehran, 1357 Š./1978.

A. Ghahreman (Qahramān), Flore de l’Iran/Felūr-e Īrān, Tehran, 1357- Š./1978- (11 vols. published to 1370 Š./1991).

S. Mobayyen, Rostanīhā-ye Īrān. Flūr-e gīāhān-e āvandī, 2nd ed., I, Tehran, 1359 Š./1980, pp. 442-60.

A. Parsa (Pārsā), Flore de l’Iran V, Tehran, 1950.

P. Wendelbo, Tulips and Irises of Iran, and Their Relatives, Tehran, 1977.

Idem and B. Mathew, Iridaceae, Flora Iranica 112, Graz, 1975.

(Hūšang Aʿlam)

Originally Published: December 15, 1993

Last Updated: November 2, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VI, Fasc. 4, p. 401