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Carthamus tinctorius, photo courtesy of Michael Davis/Garden Picture Library/Photolibrary
Carthamus tinctorius, photo courtesy of Michael Davis/Garden Picture Library/Photolibrary

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Zone
Zones 1-24, H1, H2
Full Sun
Full
Regular Water
Moderate

Carthamus tinctorius

Safflower, False Safron

Annuals, Flowers

This useful thistle relative (probably an Asian native) grows to 3 ft. tall, 1–1 1/2 ft. wide, with erect, spiny-leafed stems. In summer, orange-yellow flower heads rise above leafy bracts; inner bracts are spiny. Durable cut flower. Fresh, it is used in Hawaiian leis. Dried, it is used as a substitute for saffron, which it resembles in color and flavor. Grown commercially for oil extracted from the seeds. Sow seeds in place in spring after frost danger is past. An ornamental spineless form is also available.

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