Saffron is a Crocus
Ancient peoples valued the fall-blooming Asian flower for the pollen produced by its three dark-red pistols. The substance proved to be aromatic, flavorful and, in the time before our modern chemical wizardry, a good dye for fabrics.
Today the commercial value of Crocus sativus is chiefly as a source of the spice saffron, with Spain a center of production. Crocus sativus came to Spain around 711 A.D. with the Moorish invasion and found a hospitable home. The plant thrives at elevations of around 1,500 feet, in soil rich in lime and quartz. Other saffron centers include Iran, Greece, Morocco and India.
For those wishing to cultivate their own saffron patch, the flowers, as decorative items, are very easy to grow. Commercial production, however, is a very precise and painstaking art. It takes 75,000 blossoms to produce just one pound of commercial-grade saffron.