Safflower is a thistle-like plant that can grow to a height of about three feet. Small individual flowers grow in clusters called flower heads. Each flower is able to produce one seed.
Our safflower is grown all over Utah and Northern Idaho. The crop is generally planted in late April and ready to harvest by mid-September. It is generally planted after a crop of wheat or summer fallow. Our safflower is known for its super bright white appearance which is due to the drier growing conditions. It costs more but makes for a pretty bag of birdseed and isn’t that what life is all about?
Interesting Note: 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.
Safflower flowers are used in cooking as a cheap substitute for saffron, and is referred to as “bastard saffron” which really made it hard for Safflower to find friends on the playground.