cut flower of the month
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Safflower, False saffron (The spice saffron is Crocus sativus.)
Safflowers have round thistlelike flower heads, about 1 inch in
diameter, with a “burst” of thin, short petals atop rings of
spiny bracts. Stems are smooth, thin but sturdy, branched, 20 to
28 inches in length, and green to pale green in color. Leaves
are small, oblong and parchment-textured, with minutely serrated
Safflowers range in color from yellow-orange to red-orange.
Blooms typically last no longer than seven days, but they can be
air dried easily. Foliage tends to dry more rapidly.
Safflowers are available year-round from a variety of domestic
and foreign growers; however, peak season is from about April
Immediately remove safflowers from the shipping boxes, and check
flower quality. Remove all stem bindings as well as any leaves
that would be under water in storage containers.
Next, recut the stems, on an angle, with a sharp knife, removing
at least 1 inch of stem. Immediately after cutting, dip or place
the stem ends into a hydration solution, then place them into
containers partially filled with lukewarm (100 F to 110 F)
properly proportioned flower-food solution.
Immediately after processing, place safflowers into a floral
cooler at 35 F to 40 F, and allow them to hydrate for at least
two hours before using or selling them.
Safflowers are fairly resistant to the effects of ethylene.
Safflowers’ thin, smooth stems can quickly become slimy, so
change their storage or vase solutions every other day, and
rinse and recut the stems.
Instruct customers to change the vase solution, using the
packaged flower food you provide, and to recut the stems every
other day. Also advise them to remove blooms as they fade and
leaves as they dry, and to keep the flowers out of direct
sunlight and warm drafts.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
The genus name “Carthamus” is derived from an
Arabic word meaning to paint or to dye, in reference to
the brilliant colored dyes yielded by the flowers (see “What
Are They Good For,” below). The specific
epithet “tinctorius” loosely means for dyeing,
used in dyeing or used by dyers.
The genus Carthamus is a member of the
Asteraceae (Compositae) family. Close
relatives include thistles (Cirsium), globe
thistles (Echinops), artichokes (Cynara),
cornflowers (Centaurea), strawflowers (Helichry-sum),
billy buttons (Craspedia) and Liatrises.
HOME SWEET HOME
Safflowers are native to the eastern Mediterranean
region and Western Asia (Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran,
Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India).
WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR
In addition to being cultivated as cut flowers,
safflowers are widely grown for the edible oil contained
in their seeds and as a source of yellow, orange and red
dyes used in food coloring and rouge.
Fresh petals and young, tender shoots are edible;
however, unlike real saffron (Crocus sativus),
safflowers have little flavor. Petals can be sprinkled
over salads to provide color and used to color rice and
Some information provided by:
Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Chain of Life Network® ,
Cut Flowers, by C. Gelein
Hortus Third by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
New Pronouncing Dictionary of Plant Names, by Florists’
Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners by William T.