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Carthamus tinctorius (Safflower)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Asterids > Euasterid II > Family: Asteraceae > Tribe: Cynareae > Genus: Carthamus

A thistle-like herb with yellow flower heads that originates from the Middle East. It has been cultivated since ancient times and is not known from nature. The original main reason for its cultivation was to produce a red dye used to colour cloth but cultivation is now mainly to produce oil from the seed-like fruit. Dried flowers are also used as a substitute for saffron to colour and flavour rice dishes.

A thistle-like herb with yellow flower heads that originates from the Middle East. It has been cultivated since ancient times and is not known from nature.

The original main reason for its cultivation was that the dried flowers yielded a valuable red dye containing the pigment carthamine, which was used to colour cloth. However, synthetic aniline dyes have taken over. Dried flowers are used as a substitute for saffron to colour and flavour rice dishes.

Nowadays Safflower is cultivated mainly to produce edible oil from the seed-like fruits. This oil contains the highest levels of linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated oil) of any seed oil and is used in margarines, salad oils and cooking oil.

Publications

  • van Wyk, B.-E. 2005. Food Plants of the World - Identification, Culinary Uses and Nutritional Value. Briza, Pretoria.

 

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