SAFFLOWER (Carthamus tinctorius)
From the Asteraceae family, this product has been used for a long time in coloring food and cosmetic, medicine, oil, meals and more. In China, a pleasant-tasting herbal tea is prepared from safflower blossoms; however, spineless varieties have been used as cut flowers in Western Europe, Japan and Latin America.
Both annual and perennial plant species are grown for cut flower production. They are produced from seed, plugs or bulbs.
Safflower is native to the Old World, and the genus occurs naturally in the Mediterranean region, northeastern Africa, and southwestern Asia to India. There are positively identified archaeological records of safflower from 4000-year-old Egyptian tombs, including a find of single safflower flowers wrapped in willow leaves that were placed with a mummy from the 18th Dynasty (ca. 1600 B.C.).
The flowers of Carthamus are pale yellow to red-orange, tubular disk florets; there are no ray florets in this thistle-like head.
Safflower grows best in zones 3-9 with fairly arid conditions, too much moisture will cause the roots to rot. It’s a hardy annual plant that is easily grown from seed. Sow your seeds in early spring before last frost or late autumn with spacing of 6 to 10 inches. If you have to start the seeds indoors I recommend using peat pots, germination can take 1 – 2 weeks. Start this plant indoors 7 -8 weeks before the expected last frost and transplant them outdoors after the last frost. Safflowers require full sunlight, dry & light soil and will even grow well in poor soil. Warning – Rabbits Love Safflower!
Safflower is a really good substitute for expensive saffron. If you grow it for this purpose make sure you cut the flower heads off at the end of summer and dry them.
Check out this link for info on Safflower and Human Insulin.