Flowers should be harvested fairly open to help ensure maximum flower opening per stem and thereby maximum consumer enjoyment.
Member of the Asteraceae or Compositae (aster or sunflower) family.
Native to Europe and Asia.
Related species include chrysanthemum, zinnia, artichoke.
Flowers consist of 1 inch globular centers from which appear thin orange petals.
Stems 20-28 inches long, with several branches bearing flowers at their ends.
Plant is an annual, classed as a dicotyledon, leaves not parallel veined
Flowers are not fragrant.
Carthamus derives from the Arabic word “kurthum” or the Hebrew word “kartami” meaning to dye because the plant was used as a source of yellow/orange coloring. The specific epithet name “tinctorius” means belonging to dyes.
Safflower has long been used medicinally, as the basis for Safflower oil, and as a substitute for saffron dye.
Planted by some grape growers to dry out a field before new grape vines are planted.
Flowers may be air-dried. Tender shoots of some types are edible. According to Creasy (1999), fresh petals are edible. Can be used as a yellow coloring with rice and other foods or sprinkle them over carrot salad.
The Compositae or aster family is vast, with over 20,000 species, and is also one of the most developed families. It was named Compositae because the flowers are actually a “composite” of many individual flowers into one head. Hence, when children pull one “petal” off at a time, saying “she/he loves me, loves me not”, they are actually removing a complete flower, not just a petal.