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ntroduced Photo: Sobhapati Samom
Common name: Safflower, Dyers' saffron, False saffron • Hindi: Kusum कुसुम • Kannada: ಕುಸುಬೆ Kusube • Manipuri: ꯀꯨꯁꯨꯝꯂꯩ Kusumlei • Tamil: குஸும்ப Kusumba • Urdu: Gul rang گل رنگ
Botanical name: Carthamus tinctorius      Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
Synonyms: Carduus tinctorius, Centaurea carthamus, Carthamus tinctorius var. tinctorius

Safflower is an annual plant native to the Mediterranean countries and cultivated in Europe and the U.S. Its glabrous, branching stem grows from 1 to 3 feet high and bears alternate, sessile, oblong, or ovate-lanceolate leaves armed with small, spiny teeth. The orange-yellow flowers grow in flower heads about 1 to 11/2 inches across. This thistle is valued for its orange-yellow flowers in summer and for the oil contained in its seeds. The orange-red flowers of safflower sometimes serve as a substitute for saffron, since they give a (rather pale) colour to the food. They are frequently sold as “saffron” to tourists in Hungary or Northern Africa (and probably many other parts of the world) Their value as spice is nearly nil, but their staining capability justifies usage in the kitchen.
Medicinal uses: Taken hot, safflower tea produces strong perspiration and has thus been used for colds and related ailments. It has also been used at times for its soothing effect in cases of hysteria, such as that associated with chlorosis. Powdered seeds made into a poultice used to ally inflammation of the womb after child birth. Flowers of this herb is useful for jaundice.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in Imphal, Manipur.

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