|The blue crocus has everything a gardener
could desire: rarity, spring bloom, a heavenly scent, heavenly color ~ and recently,
confirming its celestial affinity, it returned from beyond the
Tecophilea cyanocrocus is native to the high Andes of Chile.
Thought to be extinct in the wild since about 1950, thanks to grazing and
overcollection, it was rediscovered in 2001 at a new site on
private land south of Santiago. Joint British-Chilean efforts to reintroduce
the blue crocus to its other known Andean haunts are also in the
The type flower of Tecophilaea cyanocrocus is cobalt blue with a
chalk-white centre, as shown in these photographs lent to us by Bill Dijk,
proprietor of the New Zealand nursery Daffodil Acre. Other color forms occur, including pure
white, light blue, mauve and violet.
The blue crocus is named for Tecophila Billiotti, daughter of the
Italian botanist Luigi Aloysius Colla (1766-1848). She must have been something.
Photograph © Bill
Leybold. Chilean crocus. One or two flowers per stem, deep gentian-blue, 3-4 cm (1.5")
darker veins and a white throat, bloom in March-April. They are sweetly scented.
There are 2 or 3 linear leaves up to 12 cm (5") long. Tecophilaea
winter cold period to induce flowering. Chilean researchers suggest that it blooms best with additions
to its soil mix of phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. Grow this in a glasshouse or in
a sunny, protected border. Height 8-12 cm (3-5").
Award of Garden Merit (Royal Horticultural Society) 1993 to the
species in general.