Snow crocus

(Crocus chrysanthus)
The “ Snow crocus” forms large-sized colonies on Mt. Paggaio.
Sophia Siggiridou_Kostas Vidakis, MSc

Distribution of the species

It is found in meadows, openings, sparse shrublands and forest edges. It is usually observed at low and medium altitudes of the mountain, although it is also recorded at higher altitudes (approximately 1,650 m asl.).

Description of the species (biological and ecological features)

The “Snow crocus” forms large-sized colonies on Mt. Paggaio. It is a small-sized geophyte, with its above ground part dying during the unfavorable season. Its survival organs are in the form of a small shoot and a corm, protected under the soil surface. Its leaves, in groups of 3-5 (-6), are hairy and present during flowering. Its flowers are golden yellow, with yellow anthers and a yellow to orange-red style, which is divided into three parts. It is one of the first plants to flower (February-April), sometimes even when the ground is covered with snow. Plants can penetrate the ice and appear on the surface, enjoying the short duration of daylight, and they do it by working like a stove. Scientists call it thermal respiration; the result of using photosynthetic material stored in underground bulbs during the previous year. The flowers, with their temperature raised, can not only penetrate the ice but also maintain a strong metabolism and, most amazingly, the high temperature, thus becoming “heat shelters” for insects, which use them for food, shelter and mating. These organisms create an excellent relationship, a situation where both parties win. The properties of the golden crocus are the same as the well-known cultivated saffron (C. sativus).

Due to its relatively wide distribution on Mt. Paggaio, no particular threats and pressures were observed or reported, which could lead to a significant reduction in its population.

Conservation status

Conservation state

It is not subjected to any national or international conservation status.