Crocus winner | NevadaAppeal.com

Crocus winner

by Sam Bauman
Appeal staff writer

Crocus vernus sativus is the source of the spice saffron.

As every Carson City flower grower knows, squirrels love crocuses. No matter how often you trap the critters and take them miles away for release, they come back somehow. And they love to dine on crocus bulbs. The answer: Crocus tommasinianus, which bloom from late winter into early spring. They look splendid, so we love them. They taste lousy, so squirrels hate them.

After flowering in early spring, crocuses send out grass-like leaves. These are like mini-solar panels gathering energy for the next season.

If you have other crocus in mind, try these tactics to reduce loss. Clean up all loose bulb tunics and other planting debris. Their scent is a tip to where planted bulbs are. Some gardeners think feeding squirrels peanuts or corn in the fall nut-gathering season works. That’s what they do at the White House in Washington, D.C. The idea is easy – meals discourage digging for harder to find food, such as bulbs.

SAFFRON

If you’re a gardener and a cook, the idea of planting Crocus sativus may sound like a good idea. Crocus sativus (better known as saffron) has long been a favorite herb for gastronomes. The fall-blooming Asian flower produces pollen from its dark red pistils. The pollen is aromatic, full of flavor and a good fabric dye. Most of the saffron is grown in Spain. Crocus sativus is easy to grow and presents a colorful picture.

However, getting saffron out of the plant is painstaking. It takes 75,000 blossoms to produce a pound of saffron. Happily, they sell it in stores.

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n Contact reporter Sam Bauman at sbauman@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1236.