The Grow System
Good article, Judson. I have only grown safflower once. Its a big plant and took up way more garden space than I had anticipated. It will need its own space if I grow it again. I was growing it primarily for its use as a saffron substitute.
I had never heard of this particular species of Ligusticum before. I am familiar with Osha (L. porteri) but it seems to have quite different properties from Szechwhan Lovage (L. wallichii). Osha being more lung related and this one is more for the cardiovascular and digestive systems.
I can see how Safflower and L. wallichii would do well in combination.
Several of the Ligusticum species appear to be called some sort of Lovage; Chinese Lovage, Szechwhan Lovage, Alpine Lovage, etc. But Garden Lovage is a different genus, Levisticum officinale.
Big cautions on wild harvesting any of the Ligusticum species. They all look very similar to Poison Hemlock and Water Hemlock (also Apiaceae family). Know your plants and be very cautious. Also, Osha is endangered and shouldn't be wild harvested.
Thanks - ditto on ligusticum... I'm very wary of even foraging for wild carrot.
Cool article, Safflower is one of the new things I am going to try to grow this year!
I tried this once and it literally blew away in a storm (I never found it). I had it in a little pot as I was not sure if the seeds were going to germinate.
I grew safflower last year, but when I used it in place of saffron, it only was a substitute in color, not taste. Maybe I didn't use enough?
When safflower is called false saffron it is primarily the colour that is being referred to. Safflower doesn't have a very strong flavour. The flavour of saffron is more difficult to duplicate than its colour.
Safflower can be a frustrating food plant, and an even more frustrating dye plant. It has been used since ancient times. Ancient Egyptian textiles show traces of safflower dye. You can easily get a bright yellow from the flowers, but the holy grail is red--that being one of the hardest colors to get from natural plant dyes. But if the ancient Egyptians could do it....so I tried it. Once..... You need equal or nearly equal weight of the flowers and your dyestuff. Then you put the flowers in a cotton bag and soak them. Then start squeezing and rinsing, over and over and over.....till you rinse out all the yellow pigment. I gave up by the second day and decided to just continue with the dying process to see what I'd get. Ended up with an intense, screaming florescent pink. I've seen a couple pieces of wool and cotton which a home dyer dyed nice reds by this process, so it must be possible, But she had three kids she bribed to do all the squeezing and rinsing....