Commonly known as autumn crocus, meadow saffron or naked ladies, is a toxic autumn-blooming flowering plant that resembles the true crocuses. It is deadly poisonous due to its colchicine content, and no antidote is known.
In spring its leaves are often mistaken by foragers for ramsons (Allium ursinum), which it vaguely resemble. In autumn its flowers could be mistaken for saffron. But Colchicum flower has 6 stamens, while saffron has only 3 of them.
Leaves distinguishing features:
– wild garlic leaves (ramsons): they grow individually from the ground, shape is elliptical up to 25 cm long x 7 cm wide with a petiole up to 20 cm long. They have a distinctive garlic-like smell.
– Colchicum leaves: leaves grow out straight of a bulb-like corm, without a petiole (sessile). They have no smell. Soon the seed capsule can be seen inside the bunch of leaves.
The symptoms of colchicine poisoning initially present with gastrointestinal symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Death occurs most commonly within 48 hours, due to multiorgan failure and subsequent cardiovascular collapse.