Safflower, or carthamus, is a dried plant from Polish cultivation, which is a perfect complement to bouquets and floristic compositions.
Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) is a species belonging to the Asteraceae family. In its natural environment it is a perennial. In our country, due to its poor frost resistance, it is grown as an annual. It is worth remembering that it is one of the oldest commercial species. Safflower was known in ancient Egypt as early as 1600 BC. It was also cultivated by the Babylonians, Assyrians and Arabs. On the Old Continent, it was popularized in the 16th century, mainly due to the presence of dyes used in the food and textile industries. Oil was also extracted from safflower. In Poland, the plant was cultivated until the 1950s. At present, its aesthetic qualities are mainly used. Safflower is increasingly appearing in flowerbeds. It has also gained popularity among florists who create dry bouquets from it.
How does the Safflower look?
Safflower is a plant with stiff shoots, reaching a height of 60 to 130 cm. Despite the bushy habit, the plant sometimes has a tendency to lie down, which makes it necessary to stake. The stems are covered with dark green, thorny, sessile leaves with serrated edges and clearly marked veining. At the ends of shoots, in the period from July to August, inflorescences of small, tubular flowers appear. They are initially covered with green mantles. Safflower for dry bouquets is harvested when the flower covers open, before the appearance of full inflorescences. In turn, after flowering, the flowers form basket-shaped infructescences filled with achenes.
Safflower in the natural environment and in the garden
The homeland of safflower is the Middle East and India. The plant usually grows in wasteland. It is also cultivated for its functional and medicinal properties. In Poland, until the 1950s, safflower was a species cultivated to obtain dye and oil. Currently, it is only found in the flower gardens. It will do well as a secondary species. Together with mountain cornflowers, eryngium and echinops, it can create a spectacular wild corner in the garden. It will also be perfect in the company of delphiniums and ornamental grasses. Regardless of the fact that safflower is an excellent plant for naturalistic or country gardens, it can be integrated into modern flowerbed arrangements.
The advantage of safflower is trouble-free cultivation. It is best to plant it in a sunny place, because it develops fewer inflorescences in the shade. The plant prefers a humus medium rich in nutrients. The optimal environment for it is soil with a pH close to neutral and moderate humidity. Substrate with poor fertility, before planting safflower, it is recommended to feed organic fertilizers - e.g. manure. It is worth noting that the species tolerates frost down to -4 degrees Celsius. Below this temperature it dies. Safflower is disease resistant. The only threat to it is excessive humidity that can cause rotting of the flower covers.
Safflower - how to use it?
Safflower is a plant with many faces. Decades ago, it was cultivated for the dyes obtained from it: red cardamom and yellow, which is a quinoline derivative. These substances were used to dye fabrics and produce cosmetics. The yellow dye was also a more economical alternative to saffron. To this day, safflower flowers are used in the food and confectionery industry to color pasta, rice, cakes and other food products. They are also used as a spice. Safflower oil is also used to obtain oil rich in vitamins A and E and phytosterols. Thanks to this, it is recommended in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Safflower is widely used in floristry. Fresh cut and dried flowers are appreciated. Because the plant branches strongly, creating inflorescences also at the ends of side shoots, it looks very impressive. It is perfect for dry bouquets. Dried safflower, placed in a ceramic or wicker vase, will work well as a decoration for interiors arranged in a rustic style. In turn, in a glass vase, it can be a decoration of a modern interior. It looks great alone and in the company of other dried plants. It creates a wonderful duo with physalis and triticale. You can also combine it with ammobium, gypsophila or phalaris.
Safflower in Blosmi
Dried safflower in natural color is available at Blosmi. One bunch weighs about 70-80 g. The height of shoots varies from 40 to 50 cm. The plant is carefully protected during transport.