It has lanceolate leaves, dark green, glabrous, often a foot long. Flowers light purple or white, like crocus but for their six stamens; the ovaries remain underground until the spring after flowering, when they are borne up by the elongating peduncles and ripen. It flowers in September and October. The leaves and fruit are poisonous to cattle. The root is called a corm, from which in autumn the light-purplish mottled flowers arise.