Named for the ancient country of Colchis on the Black Sea.
Perennial cormous herbs. Leaves annual in a basal rosette, sheathing, linear. Flowers opening wide, radially symmetrical, shortly stalked, stalks not articulated. Inflorescence a terminal, more or less stalkless, 1-many-flowered umbel. Tepals 3+3, fused. Stamens 3+3, attached to tepal tube. Styles 3, free. Fruit a dehiscent capsule. Seeds spherical, brown.
Grown for the delicate crocus-like flowers in full sun to light shade. Most species are cultivated as ornamentals and there are numerous hybrids and cultivars. At least 8 species are grown in Australia.
About 45 species from E Europe, Asia Minor and N Africa across to W China and India.
The clustered linear leaves and the stalkless clusters of broadly tubular flowers with 3 free styles.
Burtt et al. (1968), Bowles (1985), Persson (1999a, b, c).
Source: (2005). Colchicaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 5. Flowering plants. Monocotyledons. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.