Sometimes called Meadow saffron, wonder bulb, or naked ladies this autumnal is best known as the Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale). When you first set eyes on it it looks like an larger version of the spring crocuses we all know but the Autumn crocus is actually part of the Lily family (Liliaceae) alongside lilies, tulips and hyacinths. The crocus that blooms in the spring time is part of the Iris Family (Iridaceae) as are irises and gladiolas.
Colchicum 'Lilac Wonder'
It has a rare life cycle. The flowers rise out of the ground in September or October with beautiful blooms that look like champagne glasses. The plant doesn't have any leaves. They bloom for about 2 weeks and then they die back. The following spring several leaves will appear. They will produce the food that is stored in the plant's corm. The leaves die in early summer and it lays dormant until fall. Because of this unusual life cycle they must be planted long before most of us think about putting bulbs in the ground. So, it does take some planning.