Colours and shapes
Crocosmia is available in every shade from soft orange to deep red. You can find some twenty different types of Crocosmia at florists — you'll recognise it by its bell-shaped flowers positioned on long curved spikes. The stems are strong and tall, and the leaves are dramatically sword-shaped. There are also varieties that produce attractive berries. A yellow dye can be extracted from the flowers, which is sometimes used to colour foods, instead of the popular yet expensive cooking spice saffron.
The wonderfully evocative name Crocosmia comes from the Greek words krokos (saffron) and osme (scent). This is a reference to the strong, recognisable saffron scent that is released when the dried flowers are placed in hot water.
Crocosmia originally came from Southern Africa, and has been popular in Europe since the late nineteenth century. The Netherlands has cultivated these flowers since 1990. They are mainly exported to the United Kingdom, where Crocosmia is highly sought-after.