Plant of the Week: Woodland Crocus

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Author: 
Erika Harvey
The woodland crocus is one of the first spring bulbs to pop up. Keep an eye out for these tiny purple flowers. Photo by Cristina Macaya.
 

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that took root on the elevated rail tracks after the trains stopped running. The High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees — chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share with you one of our Gardeners’ current favorites.

Like the Giant Pussy Willow, Crocus tomasinianus, or woodland crocus, heralds the coming of spring. This delicate purple bloom is one of the first to pop up early in the year, sometimes even being spotted while snow is still on the ground.

Crocuses are grown from a “corm,” a bulb-like storage organ present in certain types of plants. Corms, just like bulbs, store energy and protect the plant during winter when it’s dormant. When the weather becomes warm enough, the plant shoots up and begins a new season.

Like many other spring-flowering bulbs, crocus corms are planted in the fall. Crocuses are hearty perennials that multiply by themselves over time so unless the corms are damaged, or eaten by wildlife, there’s no need to replant every year. Crocuses sometimes even considered weeds because of their ability to quickly take over large areas.

On the High Line you’ll find 6 different species of crocus, but the woodland crocus is the first to appear in the spring. This year, with warmer than normal temperatures, we’ve been surprised to see these little purple flowers appearing earlier than usual. In the past, the woodland crocus would show its face only as Spring Cutback begins and taller grasses are trimmed back to the base, revealing the flowers along the ground. Stop to take a closer look at our planting beds during your next visit so you don’t miss this spring favorite.

WHERE TO SEE THIS PLANT
Throughout the High Line from Gansevoort Street to West 21st Street