Carthamus (Sanskrit: kusumbha)also known as safflower is a highly branched, herbaceous, thistle-like annual plant. It is commercially cultivated for vegetable oil extraction 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. 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. Traditionally, the crop was grown for its seeds, and used for colouring and flavoring foods. In medicines, and making red (carthamin) and yellow dyes, especially before cheaper aniline dyes became available. For the last fifty years or so the plant has been cultivated mainly for the vegetable oil extracted from its seeds.
Safflower seed oil is flavorless and colorless and nutritionally similar to sunflower oil. It is used mainly in cosmetics. Also used as a cooking oil and in salad dressing,and for the production of margarine. It may also be taken as a nutritional supplement.
There are two types of safflower that produce different kinds of oils: 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.The latter it 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. Safflower flowers are occasionally used in cooking as a cheaper substitute for saffron, and were sometimes referred to as "bastard saffron".
Carthamus Absolute is made from the dried flowers of Carthamus Tinctorius. It has a deep floral herbal slightly anisic odour. Gives good body to heavy florals like Jasmine and Tuberose. Also good in Hina or Shamama blends and for Saffron Flavours.