Safflower – Carthamus tinctorius

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Safflower – Carthamus tinctorius

Common Name: Safflower

Botanical Name: Carthamus tinctorius, CAR-tha-mus tink-TOR-ee-us

Decorative Life: 7 days.

Flower Color: ,

Availability: ,

Harvest Instructions:

Flowers should be harvested fairly open to help ensure maximum flower opening per stem and thereby maximum consumer enjoyment.

Family Roots:
  • 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.
Storage Specifics:


  • 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.