Common Sternbergia - Sternbergia lutea
This Sternbergia is not as common as its name might suggest. The name actually relates to it being more common than the other species of Sternbergia that grows in Andalucia, Sternbergia colichiciflora, which has much longer and thinner petals.
Sternbergia lutea is a bulbous perennial, growing to around 10-15cm in height and is usually found growing in largish clumps. It has dark glossy-green, narrow strap-like leaves, around 15mm wide that are slightly channelled witha lighter striped midrib.These appear just before or with flowering. The 6 petaled,bright golden-yellow, goblet-shaped flowers are hard to miss, standing out during the autumn when little else is in flower. They are borne individually on short stalks with a papery spathe at the the base of each flower.
Found growing on grassy and stony banks in both sun and shadein hills and mountains, the species prefers limestone, flowering from September - November.
This plant is often confused with a crocus, and at first glance it is quite crocus-like, but it has 6 yellow stamens, not 3 as in crocus species.
Tony Hall, Manager of the Arboretum and Gardens at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, specialising in the plants of Andalucía.