A picture of a Safflower

Safflower

Carthamus tinctorius

Also known as

Dyer's-Saffron, False Saffron, Distaff Thistle, Saffron Thistle

Full Sun
Easy care
Light watering
Tender

H1a

RHS hardiness

15°C

Minimum temperature

Expected size

Height
Spread

1.2m

Max

1.5m

30cm

Min

90cm

3 months to reach maturity

Flowering

  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has no fragrance

Safflower Overview

It is also called “false saffron” because of its orange flowers that produce a coloration similar to saffron. It's Arabic and Hebrew words meaning “to paint” because of its use as a dye for silk or wool, and in medicine. Once dried and powdered, it serves as a cheaper substituted for real saffron but without having the unique fragrance. Uses: Food colouring, medicinal, culinary, herbal dyestuffs and cosmetic uses

Common problems with Safflower

Susceptible to rust, aphids, leaf eating caterpillars and safflower fly.

Safflower Companion Plants

How to harvest Safflower

Harvest safflower seeds when the plants begin to turn brown.

How to propagate Safflower

Seed

Direct seeding is preferable because of the development as a strong taproot. Sowing time is spring. Space seeds 30 cm apart at a depth of 1 mm. Germination takes 2-4 weeks.

Special features of Safflower

Drought resistant

Can tolerate drought because of deep root system.

Attracts useful insects

Attracts, beneficial insects and pollinators.

Other uses of Safflower

Food colouring, medicinal, culinary, herbal dyestuffs and cosmetic uses

Edible

Safflower flowers are occasionally used in cooking as a cheaper substitute for saffron, sometimes referred to as "bastard saffron". The dried safflower petals are also used as a herbal tea variety. For the last fifty years or so, the plant has been cultivated mainly for the vegetable oil extracted from its seeds.

Dye

Safflower flowers were used for making red (carthamin) and yellow dyes, especially before cheaper aniline dyes became available.