Celebrating the Crocus, Wild Harbinger of Spring

Photo by Barry MungerDo your worst, weather forecast. These petite blooms are a sure sign that spring is near. Photo by Barry Munger

After enduring months of bitter cold and snow, we're delighted by any sign of spring. But of all the pretty plants that herald winter's end, the crocus is our favorite. The prolific member of the Iris family grows throughout the High Line, so you're more likely to come across a crocus in our park this spring than you are a daffodil or snowdrop. And we're utterly charmed by these bold little flowers that bloom while snowstorms loom in the forecast ; they seem to leap out of the earth ready to declare that spring has finally, truly arrived.

EnlargePhoto by Mike Tschappat

It's time that these pint-sized plants received an outsize welcome. We'll be sharing crocus images on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the dramatic hashtag #CrocusWatch2014, and we've even created a Pinterest board devoted to these lovely blooms. Whether you spot a crocus on the High Line or in your own backyard, we invite you to join the fun and use #CrocusWatch2014 when sharing your pictures.

Know Your Crocus

We've gathered together a few fun facts to help you better know these beautiful blooms.

  • Acceptable plural forms for "crocus" include "crocuses," the frog-like "croci," and just plain "crocus."
  • Not all crocuses bloom in the spring. The appropriately named autumn crocus, Crocus pulchellus, blossoms each fall throughout the planting beds south of West 14th Street.
  • Crocuses grow from corms, a bulb-like storage organ.
  • Saffron comes from a type of crocus, Crocus sativus. One of the world's most expensive spices, a pound of saffron requires 75,000 blossoms. (But please don't try to supplement your spice shelf from our gardens – not only do we forbid picking our plants, Crocus sativus doesn't grow on the High Line.)
  • EnlargePhoto by Friends of the High Line
  • Literary references to the crocus abound. We'll be quoting from many of our favorite in our #CrocusWatch2014 posts, but we couldn't resist sharing one poem now. Penned in 1827, Bernard Barton's verse is as joyful (and short) as the plant itself:

Welcome, wild harbinger of spring!
To this small nook of earth;
Feeling and fancy fondly cling
Round thoughts which owe their birth
To thee, and to the humble spot
Where chance has fixed thy lowly lot.

Bernard Barton, "To a Crocus"

Grab your camera or smartphone, and help us celebrate these auspicious blooms.

Photo by Friends of the High LineGolden Bunch crocus, Crocus ancyrensis ‘Golden Bunch,’ are a bright reminder that spring is on its way. You can find these sunny blooms on the High Line at West 14th Street. Photo by Friends of the High Line


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