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The Saffron crocus, or crocus sativus, is the plant from which the town of Saffron Walden acquired the first part of its name. The town, first known as Walden and then Chipping Walden, began to be known as Saffron Walden in the 16th century when the saffron trade was at its peak. The name saffron is derived from the Arabic word Za’faran. The Saffron Crocus is not a native of this country, it originated in the Middle East, India and China.
There is no record of the plant ever growing wild here and the origin of its cultivation is not known. The plant, of the iris family, flowers in the autumn. It was grown for the stigmas of the flowers which are a deep orange colour and which, when dried, were used as a dye, medicament and flavouring.
English Saffron provide Saffron crocus bulbs for the Kitchen Garden of Bridge End Garden, which can be seen in bloom each autumn. We here at the Tourist Information Centre sell English Saffron in 2 gram tins.