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Tecophilaea cyanocrocus (Chilean blue crocus)

Chilean blue crocus has brilliant blue flowers, and was thought for many years to be extinct in the wild.
Flowers of Chilean blue crocus

Tecophilaea cyanocrocus

Species information

Scientific name: 

Tecophilaea cyanocrocus Leyb.

Common name: 

Chilean blue crocus

Conservation status: 

Rare in the wild; vulnerable to changes in land use.


Dry mountain meadows and stony slopes.

Key Uses: 


Known hazards: 

None known.


Genus: Tecophilaea

About this species

Despite its common name, Chilean blue crocus is not a true crocus at all, and instead belongs to the plant family Tecophilaeaceae. The genus Tecophilaea (meaning ‘lover of children’) was named after Tecophila, the daughter of the Italian botanist Luigi Colla (1766-1848).

Tecophilaea cyanocrocus has scented, cobalt blue flowers with a white centre, and grows from a storage organ known as a corm. It was formally described by the German botanist Friedrich Leybold in 1862, and was only known to grow in the range of hills around Santiago (Chile), at about 3,000 m above sea level. From around 1950, Chilean blue crocus was thought to be extinct in the wild, due to over-collecting (corms were dug up in large quantities for export, mainly to Europe), over-grazing and habitat destruction. However, in the spring of 2001, a large population was discovered on private land south of Santiago.


Zephyra cyanocrocus


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