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autumn crocus disease - what is it?

Hi.  I have found two clumps of Colchicum autumnale recently in two different clients' gardens.  I was told some didn't flower at all. I dug up the bulbs to investigate.  I have no picture, as yet, but the description is this:  the leaves looked healthy enough, but all the bulbs were small and all had large yellow misshapen mass attached to each bulb.  Looking somewhat like a bug eaten small yellow potato.  


In another client's garden with a similar clump, I mentioined this and dug hers up too...some bulbs looked big, fat and healthy, but some bulbs were just like the ones in the first story if they'd not grown much and were the size of a large spring onion bulb with these strange misshapen attachments.  Client said the clump flowered ok, but was horrified at the looked like something was having a parasitical effect on the bulb and stopping it from growing.


Has anyone any idea?  I have googled and my face is now blue with that activity.  All I find is, that there are no real problems...oh really?  Are these growths imported? I cannot get hold of anyone who knows anything.


Companies who send out bulbs, use agencies to take orders for example, so they don't know.  And there seems no human with knowledge, to speak to. I am no longer an RHS member to enjoy their free answer to plant problems. 


I'm still going to pursue this and see if I can find a person at my last college to help.

What have I missed?




  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,860

    Hi Claire- can't help you re the problem but is it worth trying one of the Botanic Gardens who may have an expert on bulbs etc? Marion - a forum member here- may be able to point you in the right direction. She's started the spring and summer picture threads and also one about painting what we grow. she has 'connections' with a Botanic Garden. Perhaps if you put a post on one of those threads she will see it or try sending her a PM. Happy Marion is her name on here.image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Have now contacted Defra plant clinic so might find out more soon.

  • Hi Fairygirl, I posted mine just now before seeing yours.  Many thanks.  That is a great idea I had not thought of.  I also know an ex Kew Diploma hortic person...I just thought this would be easier, I'm more worried because no one seems to know....I will find Happy Marion...thanks again.  Claire 

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,424

    I think I'll have a look at mine. I didn't get any flowers on one clump last year.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,299

    There is a thing called Colchicum Smut which sometimes leaves the bulbs with swellings on them. Rare in Britain though. There are also Bulb mites which attack the bulbs obviously and Nematodes, ditto.

  • Hi Berghill, that's interesting, not heard of smut on them.   I've checked the Smut references and from the pics I can find and the description, believe that what I saw was not Smut.  .I'm surprised that I've now read a few dozen times that there are no problems, that smut does exist and is not such an unusual thing.  Still looking for a mouldy potato attachment lookalike though image


    I look forward to hearing what nutcutlet finds.



  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,424

    I'll have a poke tomorrow Claire. They could do with a split up and a move. They've nearly disappeared under a holly now. That might be their problem

    In the sticks near Peterborough
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