The Crocus flower meaning and symbolism links back to its history, mythology and beliefs surrounding it.
The origins of the flower itself is unknown however, it is widely accepted that it might have originated in the area of the ancient Crete or modern day Iran.
In this blog we will learn about the crocus flower through its various mythologies, history and uses.
What does the crocus flower symbolise?
The Crocus flower symbolises an old symbol to represent the sun. It also reflects the qualities of the sun such as Cheerfulness and Happiness. The Crocus flower is also a warning against excess. Alchemists agree with the flower being under the dominion of the Sun.
Leo birth flower
The Crocus flower would make a perfect gift as a birth flower for those born under the zodiac of the Lion.
Leos reflect the qualities of the sun which is loyalty, generosity and a sunny personality. They enjoy all eyes on them and can easily reign any stage you put them on.
The Crocus flower meaning also reflects the qualities of the sun and the Leo zodiac. Throughout this blog using history, myths and uses you will see those qualities mirrored in the plant.
History of Crocus flower meaning and uses
The word Crocus in ancient times was always synonymous with saffron. It derives from the Greek word Krokos. Krokotos the adjective means yellow.
Other mentions of Crocus was also found in the Song of Solomon in Hebrew as Carcom or Karkom. While in Arabic was Kurkum.
Saffron in England
Saffron’s harvest comes from the plant Crocus. It was recorded as a cultivated plant in Spain as early as 961 AD. Perhaps introduced through the Moors.
In England it was introduced during the reign of Edward III. The plant continued to grow extensively specially in the eastern counties.
Saffron Walden a town in Essex is a famous place in England named after the plant.
From 14th to 18th century the saffron growers (known as “Crokers”) sold it as a drug. It was also be used as a dye specifically as an alternative to the gold thread for church vestments.
The knights of Henry VIII coloured their garments with saffron. The monks back then would also make use of saffron for illuminating manuscripts instead of gold leaf.
Although the Saffron had quite some use as a dye it was more popular even back then as a spice.
Saffron from Crocus flower in cuisines
During Shakespeare’s time saffron was used extensively as a spice. In Cornwall it was used to colour cakes.
However, it was also viewed as back luck by Cornish Fishermen who said that a saffron cake in their boat would spoil their chance at getting a catch.
In 17th century cookery books of England they directed to add saffron to various dishes such lentils, sauces, soups and many other dishes.
It was also mentioned that without saffron it would be impossible to make good pies.
The saffron is a spice that is used across the world. In French cuisine more specifically in Marseilles it is still used in bouillabaisse.
In Spanish cuisine it is an essential ingredient to the Paella.
While in the East it used in dishes like Briyani and other dishes that are similar to Briyani.
Drinking Saffron tea was rumoured to make someone more vivacious and optimistic.
The ancient physicians of Myddfai quoted:
“If you would be at all times merry, eat saffron in meat
or drink, and you will never be sad; but beware of
eating over much, lest you die of excessive joy”
However, saffron tea might have also been used to induce abortion and it was recorded in Lowestoft.
Crocus flower as an Aphrodisiac
Saffron was mentioned in the Kama Sutra for its aphrodisiac potential.
Similarly in ancient Egypt Cleopatra used saffron in her baths. She would bath in saffron bath before meeting her suitors.
Crocus flower in mythology
In Greek mythology a youth named Crocus fell in love with a shepherdess called Smilax.
They were unable to wed therefore, they prayed to the goddess Flora and she transformed both into flowers.
As a flower the tendrils of the Smilax would allow her to embrace Crocus.
In another myth Crocus was a youth that was changed into a flower after he was accidentally killed by the god Mercury who was playing the discus.
And finally another myth states that the Crocus sprang from the spot on which Zeus once rested.
Beliefs and uses of Crocus flower
The Crocus flower meaning is also deepened by the various beliefs that relates to it and also in how it was used. Lets explore some.
Crocus flower and its uses
In ancient Egypt the Crocus flower was used as a garland around their wine cups. It was also used in their religious procession alongside other flowers and aromas.
The Jews used the Crocus flower as an aromatic.
The Greeks used the Crocus flower in their composition of Perfumes.
While the Romans also used the plant for its aroma in essences they also had the plant in their apartments and banquets.
The Crocus was also an addition to luxury dishes in both Greece and Rome.
In the Middle East the Saffron was used as a dye for the hair which would give a golden colour.
In Ireland sheets would be dyed with the saffron it was believed that it would protect them from vermin. But also they believed that whoever slept on the sheets would benefit from strengthened limbs.
Crocus flower through its beliefs
The Crocus flower also had a protective nature it. In Morocco it was believed that using the saffron plant would help against the evil eye.
It was noted that all types of spirits were afraid of Saffron, therefore, it was also used to write charms against them.
Some of the Amulets made by Hebrews were also made from an ink that was a mixture of lily and saffron and then it was written with a copper pen.
It is important to note that it wasn’t any properties derived from the crocus plant that was effective against the evil eye. It was rather the colour derived from it which was reminiscent of gold.
The colour yellow evokes a feeling of cheerfulness and self confidence that makes a person have little to no fear.
The expensive price of the Saffron gave birth to a figure of speech in Devon. It was used for anything that might be costly, in Lincolnshire for example there was a saying : “as dear as saffron.”
There was a belief that Eos the goddess of the Aurora was also known as the one with the saffron garment and therefore, the public women wore a yellow robe.
Robert Turner an old herbalist who lived during the reign of Charles II stated that saffron must be harvested as soon as it is ready else it will be lost.
Crocus flower medicinal uses
In folk medicine the crocus plant was used for swollen eyes or “the distilling of eyes.”
It was also used by Gypsies in order to cure sore eyes, they would mix spring water with saffron to make a wash.
It was used as a remedy for jaundice, it was fuelled by the belief that the yellow colour of the flower would promote a remedy for a disease that was yellow.
Saffron was also used as a local remedy for the treatment of tuberculosis. This also includes plague in which the saffron would be used alongside other ingredients.
Boils and Asthma were ailments that could be treated with the help of the saffron.
The Crocus plant was also used a cordial and a strengthener for the heart and also the lungs.
This plant was also used to sober up people. It was recorder by the Physicians of Myddfai to remove a man’s drunkenness.
Other medicinal uses include:
- cure for measles
- mouth wash for cases of thrush (a fungal or yeast infection)
- treat fevers
- to induce sweating so that it cools down the patient
Autumn crocus flower meaning
The Autumn Crocus flower symbolises autumn. It is a metaphor used to signify growing old and happy days are now in the past. Although the flower is referenced as Saffron the variety Colchicum Autumnale or Autumn Crocus is known to be poisonous and it not comestible.
If you enjoyed our blog on the crocus flower meaning then make sure to check more blog on flowers under the dominion of the sun.
FAQ Crocus flower
Cumo, C. (Ed.). (2013). Encyclopedia of Cultivated Plants [3 volumes]: From Acacia to Zinnia. ABC-CLIO.
Dietz, S. T. (2022). The complete language of flowers the complete language of flowers: A definitive and illustrated history – pocket edition. Wellfleet Press.
Junius, M. M. (1986). Practical handbook of plant alchemy: How to prepare medicinal essences, tinctures and elixirs. Inner Traditions Bear and Company.
Thiselton Dyer, T. F. (1994). Folklore of Plants. Llanerch Press.
Watts, D., & Watts, D. C. (2007). Dictionary of Plant Lore. Academic Press.
Deena Bsingh, a UK-born, Mauritius-raised content writer, is a dedicated explorer of the ancient world’s hidden treasures. Armed with classical studies knowledge and a decade of spiritual immersion, Deena delves deep into the wellspring of ancient wisdom. Her illuminating writings on flower meanings and culinary history are imbued with the profound insights she has gathered on her journey. Through her Medium articles, she guides readers on transformative journeys that bridge the gap between ancient cultures and contemporary consciousness, offering a rich tapestry of understanding that endures through time.