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The Colchicum

The flower featured at the top of each page of our web site also forms the logo for Bruce Peninsula Hospice Inc. It is the Colchicum autumnale, most commonly known as “Autumn Crocus.” In some regions it’s known as a “Naked Lady” or “Meadow Saffron,” but it should be noted that it’s not a crocus, and it’s not saffron, and should definitely not be used in place of saffron in cooking because eating any part of this plant can kill you.

The colchicum is native to Europe but has been introduced to Canada and the U.S., where it is both grown in gardens and lives as a wild escapee in meadows and woodlands. It’s a perennial herb in the lily family (Liliaceae) which grows from a corm — a solid bulb. The leaves grow about a foot high in spring and then die back. In the early fall one or two leafless stalks sprout from the corm — each stalk producing a single white-to-purplish-pink flower that resembles a crocus.

The colchicum is the symbol of the hospice movement because — just as the corm blooms in the fall when everything else in the garden is dying — so Hospice provides caring and support for the dying and their families.