...or at least the source of saffron:
These cheery little day-brighteners have been popping up in my garden for the past week. They are autumn crocuses I planted at least five years ago and have forgotten about, because they don't seem to come up every year. They sure have this year, though, despite the terrible drought we had in late summer, and despite my terrible neglect.
As you may or may not know, autumn crocuses (and not their spring counterparts) are the one-and-only source of the coveted spice saffron, which is why it is so expensive. Saffron is actually made of the stamens of autumn crocuses - those orange string-like things in the middle of the flower. Every year I think maybe I should go collect all those stamens, but I just can't make myself deface such a happy little flower. So I let them wither away. I'm probably throwing away a good $100 a year by not collecting them. Oh well. Perhaps I'd be more apt to collect them if I were more of a cook and was really into that spice. I think I've only eaten something seasoned with saffron once in my life, and I don't recall that I could detect anything particularly special. Of course, I don't have the most sophisticated of palates, either.
And speaking of neglect, there's a few more pictures of these happy autumn surprises on my much-neglected gardening blog.