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Safflower, plant since ancient times grown in Egypt, China and in much of the Mediterranean basin, today it is instead produced above all by India which excels and stands out in numbers from other areas located in the United States and Mexico. In our Europe only Spain and Portugal grow the Safflower which originates in continental Asia (Iran, Pakistan) as well as in East Africa (Sudan, Ethiopia).
This plant with an annual cycle is characterized by an erect stem even an abundant meter long, very branched, and from a particularly developed root system able to "fish" nutrients up to depth. The Safflower it has leaves that have different characteristics: if at the bottom, their shape is elongated and "harmless" while if they sprout higher they can be with thorns, more annoying.
As for the flowers, they are grouped and surrounded by bracts yellow or orange color, but still gaudy. Sets of 20 but also of 100 out decorate this plant which is often attacked by some mycoses such as rust (Puccinia carthami) and alternaria (Alternaria carthami). Other problems come from enemies like the safflower fly it causes damage to flowers.
To feel at ease the Safflower it needs high enough temperatures and places to enjoy high intensity light. As for the soil, even a slightly clayey one is fine for this plant, it is important that they do not create water stagnation, which is not easy to achieve since as a plant it requires a lot of water and at the same time does not tolerate high humidity in the environment around it. When you proceed to the sowing of safflower, it takes between 20 and 40 plants per square meter, to be arranged in equidistant rows.
The collection of the Safflower takes place through threshing machines, at the end of ripening, when the humidity of the seeds is about 10%. The whole plant is used for feeding sheep, as fresh fodder or as hay, while the cakes are particularly valuable also for the diet of other animals as they are rich in fiber and protein. Flowers too, their corollas, have an interesting use, but in another sector: they are dyes in dry cleaners and cosmetics.
Going back in time we find Safflower also used for human health, it was in fact popular belief that he owned the prolong physical vigor, mental agility and sexual activity and in the Middle Ages the elderly took it through infusions, in India and Africa it is current custom.
They are the fruits, those that are commonly called i “Seeds” of safflower. These are achenes with a shiny, oval appearance and are rich in oil: 40-45%. They can yield up to 40 quintals per hectare and are used almost only for this production of oil, which is appreciated because it is rich in unsaturated acids, primarily linoleic and oleic acids. L'Safflower oil it is mainly used in the pharmaceutical industry and in the production of paints
Safflower oil: where to buy it
A pack of 300 mg online at 6 euros gives us a good dose of safflower oil. It is appreciated because it is rich in linoleic acid but also in vitamin K, recommended as a skin regenerator but also used in a completely different way. For example in painting to slowly dry colors, white and other soft and pastel colors.
Or in the kitchen: here we find the oil extracted from this plant above all powder to replace saffron even if the flavor is not the same and above all less "powerful". Furthermore, on an industrial level, this substance is an excellent coagulant, especially for production of creams and puddings, instead acts as a dye when it comes to manufacture of cosmetics and lipsticks.
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