- Agriculture, Forestry & Soils
- Field crops, grasses, plant fibers, spices, tree crops, herbs
Knowles, P. F. Department of Agronomy and Range Science, University of California, Davis, California.
Last reviewed:August 2020
- Related Primary Literature
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An annual, thistlelike, oilseed crop, Carthamus tinctorius, belonging to the family Asteraceae (Compositae) in the order Asterales. Safflower produces its seeds in heads, and these seeds are used to yield a cooking oil. Each seed is shaped like a small sunflower seed, and it is covered with a hull that may be white with a smooth surface or off-white to dark gray with a ridged surface. Depending on the thickness of the hull, the oil content varies from 25% to 45%. The flowers (see illustration) yield a dye and vary in color from white through shades of yellow and orange to red. Most cultivars (cultivated varieties) of safflower are spiny. In addition, safflower leaves are edible. See also: Asterales; Seed
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