Saturday, March 20, 2010


Spring is definitely here in Boston. The three day deluge combined with the unseasonably warm weather has encouraged a lot of little plants to go into overdrive. I have a particular affinity for crocuses and wanted to learn a little about them. One thing I found was that the spice saffron is taken from a particular species of autumn blooming crocus. But I ended up getting distracted and mostly learning about corms.

We refer to many bulb-like structures as bulbs but crocuses have corms, not bulbs. They serve much the same purpose as a true bulb; they are underground stems designed to store food for a dormant plant. The main difference seems to be that corms are solid all the way through while bulbs are layered, made entirely out of modified leaves. An onion is a true bulb, for example, and all those delicious oniony layers are derived from leaves and modified to hold carbohydrates.

The third bulb-like type of structure is a tuber, like a potato, which is a lot like a corm. Both of them are solid underground structures designed to hold food. It seems that tubers, though, can either be modified stems or modified roots and we colloquially call them all tubers. They can also help plants reproduce asexually. Plants are very confusing to me. They reproduce in many different bizarre ways and I have a hard time understanding their evolution. I guess what I learned today is that I need to read more about plants. More about moss coming up...

1 comment:

  1. loving your blog everytime i see crocuses i remember you as a little boy looking in the ground and seeing the little shutes coming up and exclaiming "crocuses are coming up momma"! and we would feel the hope of spring together and have a small celebration wonderful memories mom