My colleagues at my voluntary job raised their eyebrows and smirks appeared on a couple of faces when I said I was going to photograph Naked Ladies after work last Tuesday, but it was true. I’d seen some in Cardiff’s Roath Park the previous weekend and I wanted to see if they were also performing in Bute Park … and they were!
Of course, I’m referring to the Autumn crocus, Colchium autumnale … what were you thinking?! As well as the common name Naked Ladies, they are also known as Naked boys and Sons-before-the-father because of their growth habit – they produce leaves in the springtime that die back over the summer and then flower, leafless, in the autumn. Their scientific name comes from Colchis, a place in Georgia from where they are believed to have originated, and they are not actually crosuses at all (crocuses are Iridiceae not Colchicaceae).
Though many of the flowers I saw had been nibbled, presumably by squirrels or slugs, the colchicine chemical these Naked Ladies contain is extremely poisonous and many people have died over the years from mistaking the leaves for wild garlic. Look, admire, enjoy but don’t touch!