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Crocus is a genus of seasonal flowering plants in the family Iridaceae comprising about 100 species of perennials growing from corms. They are low growing plants, whose flower stems remain underground, that bear relatively large white, yellow, orange or purple flowers and then become dormant after flowering. Many are cultivated for their flowers, appearing in autumn, winter, or spring. The flowers close at night and in overcast weather conditions. The crocus has been known throughout recorded history, mainly as the source of saffron. Saffron is obtained from the dried stigma of Crocus sativus, an autumn-blooming species. It is valued as a spice and dyestuff, and is one of the most expensive spices in the world. Iran is the center of saffron production. Crocuses are native to woodland, scrub, and meadows from sea level to alpine tundra from the Mediterranean, through North Africa, central and southern Europe, the islands of the Aegean, the Middle East and across Central Asia to Xinjiang in western China. Crocuses may be propagated from seed or from daughter cormels formed on the corm, that eventually produce mature plants. They arrived in Europe from Turkey in the 16th century and became valued as an ornamental flowering plant.   Wikipedia

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