9th Edition of Encyclopedia Britannica - free ninth edition online encyclopedia Britannica » Volume 21 [ROT - SIA]: All's Well That Ends Well to Schassbur

Safflower, Or Bastard Saffron


SAFFLOWER, or BASTARD SAFFRON (Carthamus tinetorius), belongs to the natural order Composite; its flowers form the basis of the safflower dye of commerce. The plant is a native of the East Indies, but is cultivated in Egypt and to some extent in southern Europe. To obtain the dyeing principle - carthamine - the flowers are first washed to free them from a soluble yellow colouring matter they contain ; they are then dried and powdered, and digested in an alkaline solution in which pieces of clean white cotton are immersed. The alkaline solution having been neutralized with weak acetic acid, the cotton is removed and washed in another alkaline solution. When this second solution is neutralized with acid, carthamine in a pure condition is precipitated. Dried carthamine has a rich metallic green colour ; it forms a brilliant but fugitive scarlet dye for silk, but is principally used for preparing toilet rouge. In 1884 there were imported into the United Kingdom 1794 tons of safflower, valued at £7109, almost the whole of which came from the East Indies.

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