Safflower is an annual heirloom species in the same plant family as sunflower. The tall plants provide large tall with globular heads of brilliant red, yellow and orange flowers on spiny, thistle-like plants. They are one of the best flowers for drying. Branches usually produce one to five flower heads. Flower heads, about one inch in diameter, are usually yellow, red or orange in color. Flower buds form in late June and flowering starts in mid- to late July, and continues for two to three weeks depending on environmental conditions, stand density, and varietal differences.
Safflower was originally grown for the flowers that were used in making red and yellow dyes for clothing, food preparation, tea and for its medicinal properties. Safflower was once used as less expensive replacement for Saffron, from which the name of this herbaceous annual is derived. It is said to be one of humanity's oldest crops dating back to the ancient Egyptians. Songbirds love the seeds.
Other Names: False saffron, bastard saffron, American Saffron, Dyer's Saffron, flos carthami