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The meadow saffron has an attractive flower with a completely innocent appearance. However, it contains a potent poison, which may have positive effects only under medical supervision.

meadow saffron plant and flowers

Meadow Saffron Scientific Facts

  1. Scientific name: Colchicum autumnale L.
  2. Other names: Autumn crocus.
  3. French: Colchique (d’automne), safran faux.
  4. Spanish: Cólquico común, de otoño, vellorita, azafrán silvestre.
  5. Environment: Not a widespread plant, it grows in humid and mountainous regions all over Europe. In America and Canada, it is grown for pharmaceutical industries.
  6. Description: Vivacious plant of the Liliaceae family, growing from 10 to 40 cm high. Its flowers, similar to saffron ones, are pink or purple. The leaves are large and lanceolate, and the bulbs are chestnut-like.
  7. Parts of the plant used medicinally: The bulbs and the seeds.

Meadow Saffron Healing Properties

The whole plant contains colchicine, an active alkaloid that produces a potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect in therapeutic doses. It also has diuretic powers. Its most important use is to treat gout crisis, which is practically indispensable because of its quick and energetic effects. Pain from gout crisis, usually located on the toes, is spectacularly eased.

Colchicine acts on cellular nuclei, stopping and preventing cellular division, known in biological science as mitosis. This is why this alkaloid has been tested in cancer treatment, though its toxic effects on the human body are too intense to allow its therapeutic use. Currently, research is being conducted on some of the colchicine’s chemical compounds, which humans better tolerate.


It is a highly poisonous plant. Just two of its flowers are enough to cause a child to die.

How to use Meadow Saffron

  1. Pharmaceutical preparations – These are the most recommended way to use meadow saffron’s active component. It is presented in the form of colchicine pills, and its dose ranges from 0.5 to two daily mg.


George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 666. Print.

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