Description. Saffron is an annual herbaceous plant, from the Compositae family. There is one variety brought under cultivation – it is the dyer's-saffron (Carthamus tincforius). There are several names of this plant among people: American saffron, wild saffron, dyer's thistle.
Both wild (weed) and cultivated species are spread.
It is planted and cultivated in Spain, Egypt, USA, South America, Africa, China, in some parts of Russia and Ukraine.
The root of this saffron is main, very branched, goes to a depth of up to 2 m. The stem is glabrous, branching, 80-90 cm high. Leaves are sessile, glabrous, lanceolate-oval or elliptical, with small denticles on the edges, with spines along the edges, and upward, the leaves decrease upward passing into the outer leaf wrapper of the inflorescence. Inflorescence is in the form of an anthode with a diameter of 1.5 to 3.5 cm, there are from 5 to 6 to 30 to 50 anthodes on one plant. The flowers of the plant are small, tubular, with a five-parted corolla of orange or yellow color. Saffron is a cross-pollinating plant. Fruit is seeds, resembles a sunflower seed, with a hard shell, its seeds do not crumble when ripening. Saffron is quite demanding for heat, especially in the phase of flowering and ripening, but despite this fact the shoots can withstand frosts up to -5 ... -6°С. Saffron is a very drought-resistant plant, much less moisture is required for a full-fledged development in comparison with other oilseeds. It is also unpretentious to the soil - it grows even in saline areas, but still acid and swampy soils will not suit it.
In crop rotation saffron is placed after cereals and legumes, winter wheat, corn and sorghum. In autumn, the soil should be dug to a depth of 26-28 cm, and in spring, superphosphate and nitrophosphate should be introduced.
Sowing begins when the temperature at the depth of the seeding reaches 4-5 °C. In case of late sowing, saffron can suffer from a lack of moisture, the spread of weeds and pests. Seeds are sown at the earliest possible time in a wide-row way with a row spacing of up to 45 cm. The plant is harvested in a phase of full ripeness with combine harvesters.
The seeding rate is 10 - 12 kg\h.
Application. Dyer's-saffron has a huge number of unique properties and is quite decorative to use it in landscape design (although it is not very popular as a decorative plant).
A distinctive feature of this plant is its universality.
It is used as a green manure crop, it has phytomeliorative and phytosanitary properties; as an oilseed crop. Saffron oil is very similar to sunflower oil, it is used for food and technical purposes. Also saffron is a valuable fodder crop for cattle. The plant is not affected by pests and harmful diseases.
It is an excellent source of natural dyes and biologically active substances for the food and cosmetic industry. It is in demand in medicine.
Due to its high productivity and long flowering, saffron is very valuable as a nectariferous plant. Natural dyes are made from the bright flowers of the plant (colors: yellow, saffron, red).
As a decorative plant, it is planted as a border or flower bed plant.