Safflower, Safflor, Saflor, Carthame
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Safflower ( Carthamus tinctorius ) is a highly branched, annual , thistle-like plant. The plants become 80–120 cm high. The flowers are first saffron yellow and then discolour to red. Each flower produces fifteen to twenty seeds . The powerful taproot allows the plant to grow even in dry climates.
Traditionally, safflower was cultivated because of the yellow and red dye that can be extracted from the flowers. The red colorant is used for the traditional maiko and geisha lipstick (benibana).
Safflower is also grown because of the seeds from which safflower oil (or thistle oil) is extracted. This oil is used, among other things, as a flux for oil paint, in particular with white pigments because the oil does not yellow like linseed oil . The oil is also used for margarine and in salad dressing.
The flowers of the safflower are sometimes used as a cheap version (or imitation) of saffron . Safflower lacks the characteristic aroma of saffron.