Wild Flowers - Sand Crocus - Romulea Clusiana

Romulea Clusianais ©Tony Hall
Romulea Clusianais


Romulea clusianais the showiest of all of the Romulea species found in the Mediterranean. It's commonly called the sand crocus because of its preference for growing in open sandy soils. Look for it growing en masse in coastal sands and dunes at the backs of beaches in the Cadiz province, especially he coasts of Algeciras and Tarifa. It produces a large showy inflorescence with 1-3 flowers growing from each corm. The flowers are 30-35 mm wide, quite variable in colour, purplish-pink or lilac, with darker veining on the tepals, a deep-yellow or orange throat and a whitish band above. The stamens are bright yellow and pubescent at their bases, white above.Leaves are all basal and very thin, around 2mm wide, but cab be very long, 10-40cm. These are dark green, with a deep central groove, and are produced during flowering.

Romulea clusiana was originally thought to be a variety of Romulea bulbocodium (pictured below), which is a much commoner plan, with smaller flowers and shorter leaves. It also has a much wider range of habitats and is found in most provinces. Both species flower from January to March, but Romulea bulbocodium can go on a little longer, until April at higher altitudes.

Romulea bulbocodium ©Tony Hall
Romulea bulbocodium

Tony Hall, Manager of the Arboretum and Gardens at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, specialising in the plants of Andalucía.