Crocus Sativus Classification Essay

"Fitting In" to the Tree of Life

In order to see a more detailed and hand drawn phylogenetic tree of how saffron fits into the general tree of life that I created myself, continue to the following link: 
 General Phylogenetic Tree.pdf

Domain: Eukarya

These organisms have membrane bound organelles and a nucleus.  In addition their cells are about 10 times larger than a prokaryotic cell, have 80S ribosomes and have multiple linear chromosomes.  Furthermore, Eukaryotic organisms, unlike organisms within the domains Bacteria and Archae, are able to be multicellular.  There are, however, Eukarya that are unicellular. Members of this domain consist of everything from Protists, Fungi like theWood Ear Fungus, Plants, and Animals such as the Chicken.


Kingdom: Plantae

Therefore this organism, like other plants such as Juniper, Coffee, and Tea Plant, has cell walls made of cellulose, contains a specific membrane bound organelle that is known as a chloroplast that contains the pigment chlorophyll, and thus can carry out photosynthesis.  Photosynthesis is the process in which carbon dioxide and water are transformed via sunlight into glucose and oxygen.

Photosynthesis:  6CO2 + 6H2O --> C6H12O6 + 6O2          


Phylum: Magnoliophyta (Angiosperm)

Magnoliophyta, or better known as angiosperms, are known as flowering plants.  These organisms are the most advanced phylum of all the plants since they are vascular, sporophyte dominant, and most importantly bear fruit.  The fruit, which comes from the flower and is made from ovarian tissue, coats and protects the seeds (female gametes).  It also allows for more diverse methods of fertilization (i.e. wind, water, animals...).  Some other organisms that are classified as angiosperms are the Sweet Orange, the Castor Bean, and the Apple Guava.


Class: Liliopsida (Monocot)

Monocots, unlike dicots, have only one single cotyledon, along with parallel veins within their leaves, petals in multiples of threes, pollen only containing one pore rather than three, and fibrous roots.  Other monocots include Wild Yams, Garden Ginger, and Barley.


Order: Asparagales

This order of plants is known to be herbaceous plants that live year-round due to their underground storage organs.  They tend to have fleshy or fibrous stems, "strap-shaped" leaves, brightly colored flowers.


Family: Iridaceae

These organisms are known to possess a bulb, rhizome, or corm.  In addition this family of plants is a perennial group in which the plant survives for longer than 2 growing seasons, or in other words these plants live throughout the entire year.  The saffron plant "dies back" to its bulb structure underneath the ground where it is no longer visible and appears to be dead, but is in actuality, just "hibernating" through the cold seasons.  Furthermore, this family is known to have their leaves being equitant, or found within the same plane as the stem.


Genus: Crocus

Plants from this genus are characterized for being flowering perennials that grow from a corm.  They tend to grow in the Mediterranean, Southern Europe, the Alps, and Central Asia.  Also, these plants can close up their flowers during cold or bad conditions as a method of protection.


Species: C. sativus

This species of crocus flowers is known for its lilac-colored petals,  three burnt-orange colored stigmas being the distal ends to the carpel of this plant, growing very low to the ground (about 2 inches tall), and having long and thin leaves that can grow to be about 5-8 inches long. In addition, this particular species is known to contain the carotenoid dye called crocin, which is the reason saffron gives food its signature golden color.




For more information about the adaptations saffron uses in its natural habitat continue to Adaptation/Habitat.

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Crocus sativus, commonly known as saffron crocus, or autumn crocus,[2] is a species of flowering plant of the Crocusgenus in the Iridaceae family. It is best known for producing the spice saffron from the filaments that grow inside the flower. The term "autumn crocus" is also mistakenly used for flowers in the Colchicum species. However, crocuses have 3 stamens and 1 style, while colchicum have 6 stamens and 3 styles and are toxic.[3]

This cormous autumn-flowering perennial plant species is unknown in the wild.[2] Human cultivation of saffron crocus and use of saffron have taken place for more than 3,500 years and spans different cultures, continents, and civilizations, see history of saffron. Crocus sativus is currently known to grow in the Mediterranean, East Asia, and Irano-Turanian Region.[4]Saffron may be the triploid form of a species found in Eastern Greece, Crocus cartwrightianus; it probably appeared first in Crete. An origin in Western or Central Asia, although often suspected, is not supported by botanical research.[5] Other sources suggest some genetic input from Crocus pallasii.[6]


Crocus sativus has a corm, which holds leaves, bracts, bracteole, and the flowering stalk.[4] These are protected by the corm underground. C. sativus generally blooms with purple flowers in the autumn. The plant grows about 10 to 30 cm high.[7]C. sativus is a triploid with 24 chromosomes, which means it has three times the haploid number of chromosomes. This makes the plant sterile due to its inability to pair chromosomes during meiosis.[8]


Crocus sativus is unknown in the wild, and its ancestor is unknown. The species Crocus cartwrightianus is the most probable ancestor,[9][6] but C. thomassi and C. pallasii are still being considered as potential predecessors.[10] Manual vegetative multiplication is necessary to produce offspring for this species as the plant itself is a triploid that is self-incompatible and male sterile, therefore rendering it incapable of sexual reproduction. This inability to reproduce on its own supports the hypothesis that C. sativus is a mutant descending from C. carthwrightianus as a result of selective breeding.

Corms of Crocus sativus should be planted 4 inches apart and in a trough 4 inches deep. The flower grows best in areas of full sun in well-drained soil with moderate levels of organic content.[11] The corms will multiply after each year, and will last 3–5 years.[12]


Saffron is considered to be the most valuable spice by weight.[4] See spice. Depending on the size of harvested stigmas, 50,000–75,000 Crocus sativus plants are needed to produce about 1 pound of saffron;[13] each flower only produces three stigmas. Stigmas should be harvested mid-morning when the flowers are fully opened.[12] The saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) should not be confused with "meadow" saffron or autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) which is poisonous.[14]


See also[edit]

Topics related to saffron:


External links[edit]

A Crocus sativus plant growing from a developed corm.
  1. ^"The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  2. ^ ab"Crocus sativus". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  3. ^A Handbook of Crocus and Colchicum for Gardeners, Bowles, E. A., D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1952, page 154
  4. ^ abcKafi, M.; Koocheki, A.; Rashed, M. H.; Nassiri, M., eds. (2006). Saffron (Crocus sativus) Production and Processing (1st ed.). Science Publishers. ISBN 978-1-57808-427-2. 
  5. ^Mathew, B. (1977). "Crocus sativus and its allies (Iridaceae)". Plant Systematics and Evolution. 128 (1–2): 89–103. doi:10.1007/BF00985174. JSTOR 23642209. 
  6. ^ abHarpke, Dörte; Meng, Shuchun; Rutten, Twan; Kerndorff, Helmut; Blattner, Frank R. (2013). "Phylogeny of Crocus (Iridaceae) based on one chloroplast and two nuclear loci: Ancient hybridization and chromosome number evolution". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 66 (3): 617–627. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2012.10.007. 
  7. ^Mollazadeh, Hamid "Razi's Al-Hawi and saffron (Crocus sativus): a review". Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, Dec 2015.
  8. ^Saxena, R. (2010), "Botany, taxonomy and cytology of Crocus sativus series", AYU, 31 (3): 374, doi:10.4103/0974-8520.77153, PMC 3221075, PMID 22131743 
  9. ^Rubio-Moraga, A; Castillo-Lopez, R; Gomez-Gomez, L; Ahrazem, O (23 September 2009). "Saffron is a Monomorphic Species as Revealed by RAPD, ISSR and Microsatellite Analyses". BMC Research Notes. 2 (189). doi:10.1186/1756-0500-2-189. PMC 2758891. PMID 19772674. 
  10. ^Grilli Caiola, M. (2003). "Saffron Reproductive Biology". Acta Horticulturae. ISHS. 650: 25–37. doi:10.17660/ActaHortic.2004.650.1. 
  11. ^"Growing and Harvesting Saffron Crocus". White Flower Farm. 
  12. ^ ab"Saffron Farming Information Guide". AgriFarming. 
  13. ^Hill, T (2004). The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices: Seasonings for the Global Kitchen (1st ed.). Wiley. p. 273. ISBN 978-0-471-21423-6. 
  14. ^

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