Seed - cooked. They can be roasted, or fried and eaten in chutneys. Tender young leaves and shoots - cooked or raw. A sweet flavour, they can be used as a spinach. A famine food, it is only used when all else fails. An edible yellow and a red dye are obtained from the flowers. The yellow is used as a saffron substitute to flavour and colour food.The (fried?) seeds are used as a curdling agent for plant milks etc.
Alterative, analgesic, antibacterial, antiphlogistic, haemopoietic. Treats tumours and stomatitis. The flowers are anticholesterolemic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, laxative, purgative, sedative and stimulant. They are used to treat menstrual pains and other complications by promoting a smooth menstrual flow and were ranked third in a survey of 250 potential anti-fertility plants. In domestic practice, the flowers are used as a substitute or adulterant for saffron in treating infants complaints such as measles, fevers and eruptive skin complaints. Externally, they are applied to bruising, sprains, skin inflammations, wounds etc. The flowers are harvested in the summer and can be used fresh or dried. They should not be stored for longer than 12 months. It is possible to carefully pick the florets and leave the ovaries behind so that seed can be produced, though this procedure is rather more time-consuming. The plant is febrifuge, sedative, sudorific and vermifuge. When combined with Ligusticum wallichii it is said to have a definite therapeutic effect upon coronary diseases. The seed is diuretic, purgative and tonic. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism and tumours, especially inflammatory tumours of the liver.The oil is charred and used to heal sores and treat rheumatism. In Iran, the oil is used as a salve for treating sprains and rheumatism.
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Safflower grows in the temperate zone in areas where wheat and barley do well, and grows slowly during periods of cool short days in early part of season. Seedlings can withstand temperatures lower than many species; however, varieties differ greatly in their tolerance to frost; in general, frost damages budding and flowering thus reducing yields and quality. Safflower is a long-day plant, requiring a photoperiod of about 14 hours. It is shade and weed intolerant, will not grow as a weed because other wild plants overshadow it before it becomes established. It is about as salt tolerant as cotton, but less so than barley. Safflower matures in from 110-150 days from planting to harvest as a spring crop, as most of it is grown, and from 200 or more days as an autumn-sown crop. It should be harvested when the plant is thoroughly dried. Since the seeds do not shatter easily, it may be harvested by direct combining. The crop is allowed to dry in the fields before threshing. Plants are self-fertile, though cross-pollination also takes place. Plants have a sturdy taproot that can penetrate 2.5 metres into the soil. Safflower has been grown for thousands of years for the dye that can be obtained from the flowers. This is not much used nowadays, having been replaced by chemical dyes, but the plant is still widely cultivated commercially for its oil-rich seed in warm temperate and tropical areas of the world. There are many named varieties. A number of spineless cultivars have been developed, but at present these produce much lower yields of oil than the spiny varieties.Safflower is unlikely to be a worthwhile crop in Britain since it only ripens its seed here in long hot summers. There is more chance of success in the drier eastern part of the country with its usually warmer summers, the cooler moister conditions in the west tend to act against the production of viable seed[K].
Problems, pests & diseases
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