Bastard Saffron, Carthamine Dye, Safflor, Saffron Thistle
FR: Carthame, Safran batard
GER: Farberdistel, Saflor
IT: Cartamo or falso zafferano
BOT: Carthamus tinctorius FAM: Compositae ILL: Plate 3, No. 3
The safflower is a native of India, and an important crop in many warm countries. It is grown in the South of France and is sufficiently hardy to survive in English gardens. The flowers are orange-red or yellow and contain carthamin, an important dyeing agent, used for colouring food, cloth and cosmetics (mixed with French chalk, it becomes rouge). In parts of Poland, the flowers are mixed into bread and other foods.
Safflower is also cultivated for its seed, from which an important edible oil is expressed. Of all of the salad oils, this one has one of the lowest percentages of cholesterol. The seeds are sometimes eaten by poor people, and even the leaves can be used as salad. Other wild species of safflower which grow in the Middle East and northern India have similar properties and local uses.