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Overview

Comprehensive Description

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Safflower is grown primarily as an agricultural crop in the western half of the United States and other parts of the world. The flowerheads are a source of red and yellow dyes for clothing and food (now largely replaced by synthetic dyes), while vegetable oil is derived from its seeds. Safflower oil is high in oleic and linoleic fatty acids, and it is used as a source for cooking oil, salad oil, industrial oil, biodiesel fuel, margarine, soap, cosmetics, oil-based paints, and varnishes. Roasted or fried hulled seeds are edible to humans, while unhulled raw seeds are used as a source of food for birds. Young foliage and meal from processed seeds are edible to livestock (e.g., cattle & sheep). The primary advantage of Safflower over other agricultural crops is its ability to adapt to hot dry climates. Because of the spines on its foliage and floral bracts, Safflower resembles thistles (Cirsium spp., Carduus spp.), but the corollas of its flowerheads are yellow to red, rather than pink or purple. Unlike thistles, the achenes of Safflower lack tufts of hair at their apices, except for some uncommon cultivars that have achenes with short bristles. In addition, the widely spreading and spiny floral bracts of Safflower have a distinctive appearance.
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Description

This herbaceous plant is a summer annual (in Illinois) that forms a low rosette during the spring, but by summer it bolts to become 1-4' tall. A typical plant is unbranched below and branched above with ascending lateral stems. The stems are light green to light yellowish tan, terete, glabrous, and stiff. Alternate leaves occur at intervals along these stems. These leaves are 2-6" long, ½-2" across, and stiff; they are lanceolate, lanceolate-oblong, ovate, or ovate-oblong in shape. The leaf bases are sessile or they clasp the stems. Leaf margins are mostly smooth (entire) with scattered yellow spines, although lower leaf margins are sometimes spineless and slightly dentate (although in some uncommon cultivars, all leaves may be spineless). Both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves are dark green and glabrous; minute pubescence may occur along the lower surfaces of the central leaf veins. Each upper stem terminates in 1-5 flowerheads. The flowerheads of each branch are usually clustered together on short peduncles. Each flowerhead is ¾-1½" across (excluding the outer phyllaries), consisting of 20-100 disk florets. These florets are ¾-1" in length, although their bases are hidden from view. The corollas of these florets are yellow to red (rarely white), narrowly cylindrical below, and 5-lobed above; these lobes are linear in shape and spreading. The styles are strongly exerted from the corollas. Around the base of the flowerhead, there are several outer phyllaries (floral bracts) up to 1½" long that are widely spreading and stiff; they are elliptic or lanceolate in shape, while their margins are smooth (entire) with scattered yellow spines. The surfaces of these outer bracts are dark green and glabrous. The inner phyllaries are mostly erect and appressed together; they are light green, ovate or lanceolate in shape, and covered with appressed hairs. The margins of the inner phyllaries are mostly smooth (entire) and ciliate, although their tips are spiny. However, in some uncommon cultivars, both outer and inner phyllaries are spineless. The blooming period occurs from mid-spring into the fall (in Illinois), lasting about 1-3 months. Afterwards, fertile florets are replaced by achenes. The achenes are 6-8 mm. long, white or light brown, oblanceoloid in shape, bluntly 4-angled, and often longitudinally striped. Usually the apices of these achenes lack tufts of hair, although in some uncommon cultivars short stiff bristles are present. The root system consists of a stout taproot up to 3-4' long and some lateral roots. This plant reproduces by reseeding itself.
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Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Plains, Cultivated, Native of Mediterranean Region"
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The non-native Safflower uncommonly naturalizes in Illinois, occurring in Champaign County (see Distribution Map). However, the presence of this species within the state is probably under-reported. Because of its preference for areas with relatively low humidity, Safflower is cultivated primarily in the western half of the United States, where it more frequently naturalizes. In the eastern half of the United States (including Illinois), naturalized plants are typically found around bird feeders as Safflower is sometimes used as a source of bird seed. Naturalized plants can occur after birds inadvertently drop the seeds, or spill the seeds from a bird feeder. As a result, typically habitats in Illinois are unmowed areas around bird feeders, including vegetable gardens, flowerbeds, open spaces near shrubbery, and edges of yards. However, these naturalized plants rarely persist from one year to the next. Safflower was introduced into the United States during the early 20th century as an agricultural crop (as a source of vegetable oil and a dye for clothing or food). This plant is probably native to the eastern Mediterranean region and parts of southern and central Asia, where it has been cultivated for thousands of years.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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"Karnataka: Chikmagalur,Dharwar Tamil Nadu: Coimbatore, Thoothukkudi, Virudhunagar"
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A cultivated plant from W. Asia.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Plants 30–100+ cm, herbage ± glabrous. Stems ± stramineous, glabrous. Leaves usually all cauline, dark green; blades lanceolate to elliptic or broadly ovate, 2–8.5 cm, margins dentate with minutely spine-tipped teeth, veiny, shiny. Involucres ovoid, 20–40 mm diam., ± glabrous. Outer phyllaries spreading to reflexed, 1.5–2 times longer than inner, terminal appendages minutely spiny-toothed, minutely spine-tipped. Corollas yellow to red, 20–30 mm, throats abruptly expanded; anthers yellow to red; pollen yellow to red. Cypselae white, 7–9 mm, slightly roughened; pappus scales absent or if present, 1–4 mm. 2n = 24.
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Elevation Range

3000 m
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

Habit: Shrub
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The non-native Safflower uncommonly naturalizes in Illinois, occurring in Champaign County (see Distribution Map). However, the presence of this species within the state is probably under-reported. Because of its preference for areas with relatively low humidity, Safflower is cultivated primarily in the western half of the United States, where it more frequently naturalizes. In the eastern half of the United States (including Illinois), naturalized plants are typically found around bird feeders as Safflower is sometimes used as a source of bird seed. Naturalized plants can occur after birds inadvertently drop the seeds, or spill the seeds from a bird feeder. As a result, typically habitats in Illinois are unmowed areas around bird feeders, including vegetable gardens, flowerbeds, open spaces near shrubbery, and edges of yards. However, these naturalized plants rarely persist from one year to the next. Safflower was introduced into the United States during the early 20th century as an agricultural crop (as a source of vegetable oil and a dye for clothing or food). This plant is probably native to the eastern Mediterranean region and parts of southern and central Asia, where it has been cultivated for thousands of years.
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Associations

Faunal Associations

Little specific information is available for the floral-faunal relationships of Safflower in North America. The flowers are cross-pollinated by bumblebees, honeybees, other long-tongued bees, and probably other insects with long mouth parts (e.g., butterflies & skippers). However, in the absence of cross-pollination, the flowers are self-fertile. Seed bugs (Lygus), aphids, leafhoppers, thrips, wireworms, and the larvae of some moths are reported to feed destructively on Safflower. Among vertebrate animals, some songbirds (e.g., Cardinals) and probably upland gamebrids feed on the seeds, which are sometimes used as a source of food in bird feeders. Prior to the blooming period, the foliage of Safflower is reportedly edible to sheep and, to a lesser extent, by cattle. The suitability of the foliage as a source of forage depends in part on its level of spininess; this varies with different cultivars.
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Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Acanthiophilus helianthi feeds within capitulum of Carthamus tinctorius

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / parasite
Golovinomyces cichoracearum parasitises live Carthamus tinctorius

Foodplant / spot causer
amphigenous colony of Ramularia hyphomycetous anamorph of Ramularia cynarae causes spots on live leaf of Carthamus tinctorius

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Trupanea amoena feeds within capitulum of Carthamus tinctorius

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Trupanea stellata feeds within capitulum of Carthamus tinctorius

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Carthamus tinctorius

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Carthamus tinctorius

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 6
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

Safflower adapts to full sun, mesic to dry conditions, and various kinds of soil, including those that contain loam, sandy loam, or clay-loam. It prefers cool to warm temperatures while in the rosette stage, and warm to hot temperatures after it bolts (a warm-temperate zone with long summer days, a long growing season, and adequate rainfall prior to the blooming period). In areas with high humidity or cool weather during the summer, this plant is vulnerable to a variety of fungal disease organisms. Because of the deep taproot, resistance to heat and drought is excellent.
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Wikipedia

Safflower

Worldwide safflower production

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) is a highly branched, herbaceous, thistle-like annual plant. It is commercially cultivated for vegetable oil extracted from the seeds. Plants are 30 to 150 cm (12 to 59 in) tall with globular flower heads having yellow, orange, or red flowers. Each branch will usually have from one to five flower heads containing 15 to 20 seeds per head. Safflower is native to arid environments having seasonal rain. It grows a deep taproot which enables it to thrive in such environments.

History[edit]

Safflower is one of humanity's oldest crops. Chemical analysis of ancient Egyptian textiles dated to the Twelfth dynasty identified dyes made from safflower, and garlands made from safflowers were found in the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun.[2] John Chadwick reports that the Greek name for safflower occurs many times in Linear B tablets, distinguished into two kinds: a white safflower (ka-na-ko re-u-ka, 'knākos leukā'), which is measured, and red (ka-na-ko e-ru-ta-ra, 'knākos eruthrā') which is weighed. "The explanation is that there are two parts of the plant which can be used; the pale seeds and the red florets."[3]

Safflower was also known as carthamine in the nineteenth century.[4]

Production[edit]

It is a minor crop today, with about 600,000 tons being produced commercially in more than sixty countries worldwide. India, United States, and Mexico are the leading producers, with Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, China, the Arab World, Argentina and Australia accounting for most of the remainder.

Other names include Sallflower, Beni, Chimichanga, or Carthamus tinctorius.

Uses[edit]

Traditionally, the crop was grown for its seeds, and used for coloring and flavoring foods, in medicines, and making red (carthamin) and yellow dyes, especially before cheaper aniline dyes became available.[2] For the last fifty years or so, the plant has been cultivated mainly for the vegetable oil extracted from its seeds.

Seed[edit]

Safflower seed oil is flavorless and colorless, and nutritionally similar to sunflower oil. It is used mainly in cosmetics and as a cooking oil, in salad dressing, and for the production of margarine. It may also be taken as a nutritional supplement.[5]INCI nomenclature is Carthamus tinctorius.

Safflower seed is also used quite commonly as an alternative to sunflower seed in birdfeeders, as squirrels do not like the taste of it.[6]

Oil[edit]

There are two types of safflower that produce different kinds of oil: one high in monounsaturated fatty acid (oleic acid) and the other high in polyunsaturated fatty acid (linoleic acid). Currently the predominant edible oil market is for the former, which is lower in saturates than olive oil, for example. The latter is used in painting in the place of linseed oil, particularly with white paints, as it does not have the yellow tint which linseed oil possesses.

In dietary use, high–linoleic safflower oil has also been shown to increase adiponectin, a protein that helps regulate blood glucose levels and fatty-acid breakdown. [7]During a 16-week, double-blind controlled study conducted at The Ohio State University, researchers compared high-linoleic safflower oil (SAF) with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).[8] [clarification needed] They studied post-menopausal women who had high blood sugar and wanted to lose weight. These participants showed an average reduction of 6.3 percent belly fat and an average of 20.3 percent increase in the important belly fat hormone, adiponectin.

A study published in the BMJ [9] reported an analysis of data recovered from a randomized controlled trial performed in 1966-73 where safflower oil replaced animal fats in the diets of people who had had a heart attack. The group receiving extra safflower oil in place of animal fats had a significantly higher risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. As expected, increasing omega-6 linoleic acid from safflower oil in the Sydney Diet Heart Study significantly reduced total cholesterol; however, these reductions were not associated with [reduced] mortality outcomes. Moreover, the increased risk of death in the intervention group presented fairly rapidly and persisted throughout the trial.

Inclusion of the intervention data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study.

An updated meta-analysis of polyunsaturated fatty acid intervention trials showed trends toward increased risks of death from coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease from increasing omega-6 linoleic acid intakes suggesting that the cardiovascular benefits of polyunsaturated fatty acids may be attributable to omega-3 polyunsaturated fats.

In culinary use, safflower oil compares favorably with other vegetable oils with its high smoke point.

Flower[edit]

Safflower purchased at a market in Turkey
Safflower oil as a medium for oil colours

Safflower flowers are occasionally used in cooking as a cheaper substitute for saffron, and were sometimes referred to as "bastard saffron".[10]

In coloring textiles, safflower's dried flowers are used as a natural textile dye. The pigment in safflower is the benzoquinone-derived chemical carthamin and it is classified as a quinone-type dye. It is a direct dye which is also known as CI Natural Red 26. Yellow, mustard, khaki, and olive are the most common colors in textiles. Even bright reds and purples can be reached using alkaline processing. Indians used this red dye as their official red tape on legal documents.[11] All hydrophilic fibers (all natural fibers, such as cotton, wool, etc.) may be dyed with this plant. Polyamide textiles can also be dyed without a mordant agent because of its wool-like chemical structure. Polyester, polyacrylonitrile, and others which are hydrophobic synthetic fibers can be dyed only in the presence of a mordant.

Safflower concentrate is an ingredient of the carbonated soft drink Tizer and some types of Sunkist.

Ancient Egyptians found the flower pleasing to the eye and included it in garlands placed on mummies.[11] Dried safflower flowers (草紅花 caohonghua, 紅花 honghua) are used in traditional Chinese medicine to alleviate pain, increase circulation, and reduce bruising.[12] They are included in herbal remedies for menstrual pain and minor physical trauma.[13] In India, the flowers are used for their laxative and diaphoretic properties, and are also used for children's complaints of measles, fevers and eruptive skin conditions.[11]

Transgenics[edit]

The defunct pharmaceutical company SemBioSys Genetics tried to use transgenic safflower plants to produce human insulin as the global demand for the hormone grows. Safflower-derived human insulin was in the PI/II trials on human test subjects.[14]

Cultivation[edit]

The safflower, an annual plant, is native to a climate with a long dry season and a limited rainy season. Its defenses are very poor against numerous fungal diseases in rainy conditions, after its seedling stage. This greatly restricts the areas in which it can be grown commercially around the globe.[15] See List of safflower diseases. The plant is also very susceptible to frost injury (from stem elongation to maturity).

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.tropicos.org/Name/2700365
  2. ^ a b Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf, Domestication of plants in the Old World, third edition (Oxford: University Press, 2000), p. 211
  3. ^ John Chadwick, The Mycenaean World (Cambridge: University Press, 1976), p. 120
  4. ^ De Candolle, Alphonse. (1885.)Origin of cultivated plants. D. Appleton & Co.: New York, p. 164. Retrieved on 2007-09-25.
  5. ^ http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-96-SAFFLOWER.aspx?activeIngredientId=96&activeIngredientName=SAFFLOWER
  6. ^ http://www.ebirdseed.com/safflower.html
  7. ^ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14521947
  8. ^ Norris, LE; Collene, AL; Asp, ML; Hsu, JC; Liu, LF; Richardson, JR; Li, D, et al. (September 2009). "Comparison of dietary conjugated linoleic acid with safflower oil on body composition in obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes mellitus.". The American journal of clinical nutrition 90 (3): 468–76. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.27371. PMC 2728639. PMID 19535429. 
  9. ^ http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.e8707
  10. ^ E.g. "safflower" in Webster's Dictionary, year 1828. E.g. "bastard saffron" in The Herball, or General Historie of Plantes, by John Gerarde, year 1597, pages 1006-1007.
  11. ^ a b c Dweck, Anthony C. (ed.) (June 2009), Nature provides huge range of colour possibilities, Personal Care Magazine, pp. 61–73, retrieved 30 Oct 2012 
  12. ^ http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/herbcentral/safflower.php
  13. ^ 雷载权; 陈松育、高学敏 (1995). 中药学. 上海科学技术出版社. p. 206. ISBN 7-5323-3706-5. 
  14. ^ Phillip Stephan, SemBioSys Genetics Inc, product bulletin June 2008. http://www.sembiosys.com/pdf/SBS-1723-Product-FS(Insulin).pdf sembiosys.com
  15. ^ Book Safflower, By Joseph Ronstadt Smith, year 1996, including chapter 6: "Developmental Research".

Safflower Oil and Weightloss Safflower Oil Comparison

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Notes

Comments

Carthamus tinctorius is apparently native originally to the eastern Mediterranean; it is known only in cultivation and as escapes today. Safflower has been reported from Texas; I have not seen the specimen.

Safflower is cultivated as an oil seed, a source of vegetable dye, as birdseed, and as an ornamental. It is one of the earliest known crop plants, with cultivation dating back to prehistoric times. In the United States safflower is grown principally in California and Arizona; it has been a successful crop in every state west of the 100th meridian.

Carthamus oxyacantha M. Bieberstein (wild safflower) was collected in 1978 in Monterey County, California. It is considered by the United States Department of Food and Agriculture to be a noxious weed subject to eradication if found. In central and southern Asia it is a pernicious weed of agricultural lands and other disturbed ground. Carthamus oxyacantha most closely resembles cultivated safflower; it has smaller heads and much spinier leaves. Its cypselae are usually darkly pigmented, smaller (4–5 mm versus 5.5–9 mm), and almost always lack pappi.

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