Botanical name: Crocus sativus Family: Iridaceae (Iris family)
Saffron Flower is a beautiful flower grown mostly in Kashmir in India. Saffron, which has for decades been the world's most expensive spice by weight, is native to Southwest Asia. It was first cultivated in the vicinity of Greece. After a period of hibernation in summer, five to eleven narrow and nearly vertical green leaves, growing up to 40 cm in length, emerge from the ground. In autumn, purple buds appear. Only in October, after most other flowering plants have released their seeds, does it develop its brilliantly hued flowers, ranging from a light pastel shade of lilac to a darker and more striated mauve. Upon flowering, it averages less than 30 cm in height. Inside each flower is a three-pronged style; in turn, each prong terminates with a crimson stigma 2.5-3 cm in length. These stigma are hand harvested , dried and used as the famed saffron. Saffron was traditionally used in coloring the rice in biryani. Saffron Flower is a fall-flowering perennial plant unknown in the wild, and is sterile. Being sterile, the Saffron Flower's purple flowers fail to produce viable seeds—thus, reproduction is dependent on human assistance: the corms (underground bulb-like starch-storing organs) must be manually dug up, broken apart, and replanted. A corm survives for only one season, reproducing via division into up to ten "cormlets" that eventually give rise to new plants. The corms are small brown globules up to 4.5 cm in diameter and are shrouded in a dense mat of parallel fibers.
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