Saffron? - Knowledgebase Question

Fremont, CA
Avatar for kcdrury
Question by kcdrury
November 14, 1999
My grandmother recently left me a package of seeds. She knew my mother liked the spice saffron, so the thought she could find the bulbs. She came back with some seeds and assured me they were saffron. It has been 6 months and they look like the pictures from The stem is about a foot and a half long and looks like a piece of rope. The flowers are orange and red and look like little fuzzbals. before it blooms, it is surrounded by little green leaves with tiny thorns on the end. please help me identify this plant.

Answer from NGA
November 14, 1999
Based upon your description, I'd say you're growing Carthamus tinctorius, commonly known as False-Saffron. The plant grows 1'-3' tall bearing flower heads above leafy bracts; the inner bracts are spiny. The plants are grown commercially for an oil extracted from the seeds, and the dried flowers have been used for seasoning in place of true saffron.

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