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About Safflower

Crop profile

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L), an annual plant is a member of the Compositae or Asteraceae family cultivated mainly for its seed which is a source of oil and bird feed. Carthamus is the latinised version of the Arabic word "quartum" or "gurtum" which alludes to the colour of the dye obtained from florets and the modern Arabic name "usfar" is probably the origin of the English name "Safflower" through various written forms of usfar, affore, asfiore, saffiore finally to safflower. It is one of the world's oldest crops.

Origin

Based on the existence of its close related species, safflower was believed to be originated in an area bounded by the eastern Mediterranean and Pesian Gulf, encompassing southern parts of former USSR, Western Iran, Iraq, Syria, Southern Turkey, Jordan and Israel.

Presently, safflower is cultivated on a commercial scale mostly in India, USA, Mexico, Ethiopia, Australia, China, Argentina, Russia and to a limited extent in Pakisthan, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Iran.

Crop statistics

In India, safflower is grown over an area of 2.95 lakh ha with a production of 1.89 lakh tonnes (2008-09). The average productivity of the crop was 642 kg/ha.

Maharashtra and Karnataka are the two most important safflower growing states accounting for 63 and 25% of area and 55 and 31% of production respectively.

Nutritional importance

For centuries, it has been under cultvation in India either for its orange red dye extracted from its brilliantly coloured florets and / or for its much valued oil.

It produces oil rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids which play an important role in reducing the blood cholesterol level.

All parts of the plant find useful applications in herbal medicines specially in preparations to treat physical disorders and to use as an aphrodisiac.

Young seedlings are rich in vitamin A, iron, phosphorus and calcium which is used as a leafy vegetale.

 

 

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