The poisonous secret of Medea


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In autumn the land of Crete before the first rainfalls fall is adorned with various flowers that bloom literally in the summer dry land, signaling the resurrection of the earth that will follow. The family of Colchicum blooms in the fall and decorates the dry land. The Colchicum plants growing in Crete are all poisonous and this is the main reason they are not endangered with extinction, as animals or humans don't eat them. They get their name after the mythical land of mythology Colchis, Medea's homeland, who killed her children by using a poisonous substance containing colchicine.

The largest species of the family of Colchicum grows in Crete and perhaps the most beautiful is the long-leaved kolchiko (Colchicum Macrophyllum). This is found mainly in the plateau of Anopolis in province Sfakia and especially in the area Skala. The visitor in September and October will see a blooming period. The life cycle of the plant is quite special because the flowers come out many months after the leaves come out in spring, dry up completely in the summer and in autumn flowers pop up from the "dead" plant. Flowers feed on the bulb that is in the soil like most plants blooming in Crete before the rainy season. The flowers of Colchicum have colors from white to pink and light purple. It's habitat is the altitudes from 200 up to 650 meters.

Colchicum pusillum Sieber

One of the most common types of colchicum with particular beauty despite its small size is the Colchicum pusillum Sieber. The Colchicum pusillum Sieber is found at low altitudes in autumn and winter months and should not be confused with the Cretan colchicum (Colchicum Cretense) that climbers often encounter in the island's mountains. The plant is quite small and grows in clusters. Its color is white and pinkish and sometimes inside the flower we see the anthers with the reddish-black color. Typically each plant has 3-6 leaves rising few centimeters above the ground. An area that is full with colchicum is Halepa of Kefalogiannides above Tsalikaki, near Heraklion city.

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