|Binomial name||Carthamus tinctorius|
Other Common Names:
The other common names for the herb safflower are Dyer's Saffron, American Saffron,Beni,Fake Saffron, Flores Carthami, Bastard Saffron, American Saffron and Azafran.
Safflower is a member of the Daisy or Composite Family, it also goes by the common names DYER'S SAFFRON and FALSE SAFFRON because it is used to make a yellow dye similar to the rare and costly true Saffron dye derived from a member of Crocus genus. It is a source of cooking oil .Scientists found that the oil extracted from safflower possessed maximum concentration of polyunsaturates and this has led to the intensive cultivation of the plant primarily for its oil content.
The Safflower plant is known as Koosumbha in India and in China as Hoang-tchi. Safflower was also known as carthamine in the 19th century. It is a minor crop today, with about 600,000 tons being produced commercially in more than sixty countries worldwide. India, United States, and Mexico are the leading producers, with Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, China, Argentina and Australia accounting for most of the remainder.
The Safflower plant is extensively cultivated in India, China and other parts of Asia, also in Egypt and Southern Europe; but its native country is unknown. It grows about 2 to 3 feet high, with a stiff, upright whitish stem, branching near the top. Safflower has a strong taproot which enables it to thrive in dry climates, but the plant is very susceptible to frost injury from stem elongation to maturity.
The safflower is considered to be indigenous to Iran, northwestern India and perhaps to Africa also. Presently, the safflower can be found even in North America as well as in southern Europe.
The safflower thrives best in the open areas and is harvested during the summer. It is cultivated in fields and gardens.
The safflower is generally propagated through its seeds and gives rise to a fundamental stem. This central stem does not extend till two to three weeks and bears leaves close to the ground like a rosette or rose-shaped badge much akin to the immature thistle. Depending upon the environmental conditions the stem of safflower bears quite a lot of branches that often grown between 12 to 36 inches in length which bears one to five flower heads and are approximately one inch in width and are normally yellow or orange colored. Each of the flower heads of safflower comprises 15 to 30 seeds and the oil concentration in these seeds varies between 30 to 45 per cent. As the mature seeds are covered in the flower heads, they do blow apart before harvesting. While the buds of the safflower begin to form in late June, the blossoming begins around middle to late July which persists for two to three weeks based on the atmospheric conditions and compactness of the soil. Normally, the safflower seeds mature around September - four weeks after the end of the flowering season. Because of the tap root system of the herb which always maintains a dampness of the sub soil the plant is said to endure drought. During the phase when safflower flower buds emerge, firm thorns develop along the edge of the leaves of most variety of the plant species. This often makes it difficult to walk through the fields where the safflower grows.
The buds of the safflower begin to form in late June; the blossoming begins around middle to late July which persists for two to three weeks.
Pests and Diseases
Rust is the most common diseases in safflower. The rust fungus is carried with the seeds. The other common diseases in this herb are anthracnose, leaf spots, powdery midews, wilt, witches broom and crown gall.
The most commonly used part of safflower is the flowers,seeds and the seed oil for its medicinal and commercial value.
• It helps in treating cold by evacuating phlegm, both upwards and downwards and thus clearing the lung.
• Safflower is used intreating jaundice.
• It is used in treating complaints like measles, fevers, and eruptive skin diseases.
• Safflower is effective in lowering the cholesterol levels in the system and help in bowel movements.
• Chinese herbal medicine practitioners recommend the safflower flowers to encourage menstruation and also treat abdominal pains.
• The safflower flowers are also said to be effective in cleaning and healing open wounds and bruises.
• It may also be taken as a nutritional supplement.
• Safflower contains two colouring matters, yellow and red, which is chiefly used for dyeing silk, affording various shades of rose and scarlet.
• It is used in making cosmetics like rouge when mixed with finely-powdered talc.
• Another common use of Safflower is in adulterating Saffron.
• The seeds yield oil much used in India for burning and for culinary purposes.
• Safflower is mainly used for producing edible oil products like salad oils and soft margarines.
• The safflower oil can also be used as a substitute for diesel fuel.
• Foots, that remain as a residue after the oil processing, form an ingredient in the manufacture of soaps.
• On the other hand, the birdseed merchants purchase the minor fraction of the seed produce to be used as food for caged birds.
• It is used mainly as cooking oil, in salad dressing, and for the production of margarine.
Safflower is one of humanity's oldest crops. Chemical analysis of ancient Egyptian textiles dated to the Twelth dynasty identified dyes made from safflower, and garlands made from safflowers were found in the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun.John Chadwick reports that the Greek name for safflower occurs many times in Linear B tablets, distinguished into two kinds: a white safflower, which is measured, and red which is weighed.
The dried yellow-orange flowers of the herb are burned on charcoal as incense by gay men, who smoke themselves with the fumes before going out in search of sexual partners. Dried safflower flowers and sampson snake root can be steeped together in safflower oil and the oil rubbed on the back of the knees, thighs, and buttocks to attract a male lover.