Colchicum troodi

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Common name   Colchicum
Hebrew name   סתוונית בכירה
Family Colchicaceae
Petals Connate
Leaf form Linear
Leaf margin Entire
Habitat Maquis
צורת הגבעול Round
Life form Geophyte
Distribution in Israel Golan, Hermon, Gallilee, Carmel,
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Flowering months
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Protected Toxic

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Colchicum
© Photo: Sara Gold  
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Colchicum troodi is an autumn flowering geophyte. It can be identified by its few (3-4 rarely up to 6), broad (2-5 cm), long (20cm) leaves. In the spring the leaf tips turn black. The large triangular fruits are carried at the top of a short stalk at the center of the plant. 
Colchicum troodi blooms in autumn (September – November) with a medium size flower, among the other colchicums. The petals are leathery narrow and long with light pink to white color. Its tuber hidden 10 – 25 cm in the ground.
Colchicum troodi can be found in the north-east corner of the Mediterranean from northern Israel to Lebanon, Syria to southern Turkey, and Cyprus. It is named after the Troodos Mountains in this island. In Israel it grows in the northern parts, the Carmel, Upper Galilee, northern Golan heioghts and the Hermon up to 1400 m altitude.  It grows in the thicket of the maquis or forests of Quercus boissieri or Quercus calliprinos.
The family Colchicaceae is distinguished by having three pistils in the flower. The genus Colchicum includes small, autumn blooming geophytes. There are 65 colchicum species worldwide 11 of which grow in Israel. Its center of origin is in the Mediterranean region. 
The colchicum fusiform to globular tuber has a diameter around 2 cm. The contractile roots position the tuber in the suitable depth. The tuber is emptied at the beginning of the season and the plant develops a new tuber each year. It contains the poisonous substance colchicine which disturbs cell divisions. Is was used for treatment of rheumatic fever and blood-vessel disorders. This substance is commonly used in botanical and genetic research. It is considered a protective secondary metabolite, but certain animals, mainly porcupines, cam resist it and dig up and eat the tubers. 
The oblong leaves vary from one species to another appear after the flowers. The cup shaped flowers have a long tube that splits above the ground into 6 lobes, or sepals, arranged in two whorls. There are 6 stamens and a superior ovary with 3 pistils. The fruit develop underground and raised at its ripening on a short stalk that assists the seed dispersal. Rarely appear abnormal flowers with 7, 8 or 5 sepals and stamens.
Written by Mike Livneh and Ori Fragman-Sapir



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