At this date the writer just noticed that his have 6' of growth already. He is ready for the beautiful yellow crocuses that will bloom later in mid September.
Its binomial is Colchicum autumnale. The word Colchicum is derived from the community of Colchis, an ancient culture east of the Black Sea in Georgia. Sheep were said have to actually collected gold flakes in their wool from a local stream they waded in. The Greek legend of Jason and the Argonauts tells that Jason finally found the Golden Fleece there. Today we could find autumn crocus there.
An ancient Egyptian priest, Sonchis of Sais (North Egypt), wrote that the very earliest Egyptians lived in Colchis. You may believe this or not. After a terrible earthquake made it impossible for them to live there they spent 1,000 years immigrating south until they finally settled where the Egyptians established themselves along the upper Nile River. That's down south for the river flows north; therefore, down the Nile Valley means sailing northward. Sonchis did not explain why they took so long to finally settle.
The autumn crocus is written of for its medicinal value in ancient records of Egypt, Greece, and India. It is found in the Eber Papyrus, which is the oldest medical text known to man. The text was a product of Egypt about 1550 B.C.
Colchicine is an active ingredient for medicine. the US FDA has approved colchicine for the treatment of gout and for familial Mediterranean fever. The ancients, not knowing this word (colchicine), simply used the dried seeds, flowers, and corms (not bulbs) for gout and pain in joints. Gout is a painful buildup of needle-sharp uric-acid crystals. The big toe is usually the starting point. It can spread throughout the foot.
Alexander of Tralles (c. 525-c.605 A.D.) documented his use of the plant for this purpose. While treating gout he would incant: "I adjure by the great name of Lao Sabaoth" (and other such mysterious incantations used to impress the superstitious). His use of charms and amulets surely helped, this con artist surely thought.
Gout was a common ailment among the wealthy folks, much because of the fare of which they partook, which the poor folks could not afford. Caring for such persons with this medication put an emotional strain on physicians for if a patient died under his care the punishment would be severe, even unto death. The poor could not get gout no matter how hard they tried for they could only eat rough bread and not much more.
The autumn crocus is poisonous and the symptoms resemble those of arsenic. There is no antidote. Even handling the corms can cause skin problems in some with sensitive skin.
In 2003 a 76-year old inveterate alcoholic believed that he was eating wild garlic and actually ate autumn crocuses corms. He suffered renal and liver failure and ultimately died from cardiovascular collapse and respiratory failure. Other similar deaths have been recorded. Now why would the man even think of eating wild onions? He may have known that Native Americans, in parts of the continent, barbecued the bulbs of wild garlic in underground steaming pits to give flavor to food, or simply to eat them. They introduced the wild onions as food to explorers. They also told them that wild onions were good to cure scurvy. Perhaps the poisoned man simply skipped the cooking preparation and gobbled them down.
It is believed that La Salle marked the Algonquin Indian name for this plant, "chigagou," on a map he was drawing of the SW shore of Lake Michigan where a handy portage was found. The village that grew into a major city on that spot is called Chicago (chigagou). A village grew up there because of the portage.
We TOLD you that this is trivia, didn't we?
Benjamin Franklin was the first in America to introduce colchicine therapy for gout. The medication taken internally has a very small amount of colchicine. A poultice can be created and applied externally. Colchicine is still used in severe cases of gout.
Researchers and chemists have been, so far, unable to synthesize colchicine inexpensively.
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