Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

                      Plant of the Month - August 2014
                                Merendera species in Turkey - by Liam McCaughey
Merendera are attractive bulbous plants; they differ from colchicum in having the tepal bases separate from each other, rather than fused as in Colchicum, to which they are closely related. The AGS Encyclopaedia states that there are about 10 species, whose home ranges from the Pyrenees to western Asia.  However more recently molecular genetic studies have resulted in most of these species being reassigned as Colchicum (though as usual all botanists do not agree).
We found two high altitude species while on a visit to Eastern Turkey with Greentours this year.  Merendera trigyna (Colchicum trigynum) was in snowmelt at 2600m, on the slopes of the volcanic Mt Tendurek, and M. kurdica (C kurdicum) a little higher at 2900m on the Karabet Pass, south of Lake Van
Both these areas are high pasture, grazed by the enormous herds of sheep and goats kept by the local Kurdish shepherds. 

Merendera trigyna

Merendera kurdica


Merendera kurdica

Cultivation of colchicums is generally said to be easy, but these two species are high altitude, and so expect a long cold winter and cool summer.
Here and above right is Merendera Kurdica, from the Karabet Pass, and on the far left is its type specimen on the herbarium sheet held in the RBG, Edinburgh - it was first collected in 1893 by Bornmueller.
More details in the Crocusmania website (in Turkish, but Google Translate does a good job).