Crocus (plural: crocuses, croci) is a genus of perennial flowering plants, native to a large area from coastal and subalpine areas of central and southern Europe (including the islands of the Aegean), North Africa and the Middle East, across Central Asia to western China.
The genus Crocus is placed botanically in the iris family (Iridaceae). The plants grow from corms and are mainly hardy perennials, and are found in a wide range of habitats, including woodland, scrub and meadows.
There are about eighty species of crocus (of which approximately 30 are cultivated). Their cup-shaped, solitary, salverform flowers taper off into a narrow tube. Their color varies enormously, although lilac, mauve, yellow and white are predominant. The grass-like, ensiform leaf shows generally a white central stripe along the leaf axis. The leaf margin is entire. Crocuses typically have three stamens. The spice saffron is obtained from the stigmas of Crocus sativus, an autumn/fall-blooming species.
The name of the genus is derived from the Greek krokos (κρόκος). This in turn is probably a loan word from a Semitic language, related to Hebrew karkōm, Aramaic kurkama, Persian and Arabic kurkum, which mean saffron or saffron yellow.
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