This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Greek, odor of saffron, which is perceivable when the dried flowers are placed in warm water). Iridaceae. Gladiolus-like garden plant.
This genus has but one species, and is not clearly distinguished from the closely allied Tritonia, but it differs in the stamens being separated at equal distances instead of grouped at one side, the form of the limb, the tube not swollen at the top, and the fruit 3-seeded, sometimes 5-seeded, instead of many-seeded.
The name of this genus is spelled Crocosma by Baker, but it was first spelled Crocosmia. The flowers with coppery tips shading into orange - yellow are very distinct and attractive. Pax, in Engler & Prantl, combines the genus with Tritonia.
Crocosmia aurea is a showy bulbous autumn-blooming plant, which is hardy south of Washington, D. C, with slight protection, and in the North is treated like gladioli, the bulbs being set out in the spring, after danger of frost, and lifted in the fall for winter storage. It is of easy culture, and is propagated by offsets or by seeds which should be sown in pots, under glass, as soon as ripe. Corms should be stored in peat or sphagnum to prevent them from becoming too dry.
Planch. (Tritonia aurea, Pappe.). Height 2 ft.: corm globose, emitting offsets from clefts in the side: scape 1 1/2 - 2 ft. high, leafy below, naked or only bracted above, compressed, 2-winged: leaves distichous, shorter than the scape, linear, ensiform, striated, but with a distinct midrib: flowers sessile in the panicle, perhaps 25 scattered over a long season, with buds, flowers and seeds at the same time; perianth bright orange-yellow toward center; tube slender, curved, 1 in. long; segments longer than the tube: caps. 3-celled. tropical and S. Africa July-Oct. F.S. 7:702. B.M. 4335. B.R. 33:61 (Tritonia). Also interesting as one parent of a bigeneric cross resulting in Tritonia (Montbretia) crocosmaeflora. variety imperialis, Hort., Fig. 1112, grows about 4 ft. high. variety maculata, Baker, has dark blotches above the base of the 3 inner segments J.H. III. 33:567. J. n. Gerard.
Fig. 1112. Crocosmia aurea variety imperialis. (X 1/2)