A thistle plant, Carthamus tinctorius, originally found in Egypt and southern Asia. Safflower was also cultivated in Europe for the oil in its seeds. The flowers of the safflower plant contain a yellow dye and a red dye. The yellow colorant, safflor, is water soluble. The red dye, carthamin, is extracted from the dried, crushed flower heads with a weak alkali solution after the yellow has been removed with cold water. The yellow color was rarely used while the red safflower was commonly used for dyeing red or pink silk and linen since ancient times. It was imported to Europe in the 18th century. Safflower red was used to dye government red tape and may have been used as a pigment. Carthamin is not a permanent color and is sensitive to acids, alkalis, heat, and light.
Synonyms and Related Terms
Carthamus tinctorius; Natural Yellow 5; Natural Red 26; carthame (Fr.); faux safran (Fr.); Deutscher saflor (Deut.); cartamo (It., Esp.); saffloor (Ned.); beni (Jap.); benibana (Jap.); Färberdistel (Deut.); knikos (Gr.); karthamos (Gr.); saffloor (Ned.); cartamina (Port.); carthamus; bastard saffron; carthamin; distaff thistle; dyer's thistle; seaflower; African saffron; false saffron; safflor; rose carthame; saffron thistle; American saffron
Safflor is soluble in water and is not lightfast. Carthamin is soluble in alkalis and slightly soluble in water.
ISO R105 Lightfastness Classification = 1
° J.Hofenk-de Graaf, Natural Dyestuffs: Origin, Chemical Constitution, Identification, Central Research Laboratory for Objects of Art and Science, Amsterdam, September 1969.
- Analytical strategies for natural dyestuffs in cultural heritage objects - EU-ARTECH European research project - http://www.organic-colorants.org
Sources Checked for Data in Record
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- Judith Hofenk-de Graaff, Natural Dyestuffs: Origin, Chemical Constitution, Identification, Central Research Laboratory for Objects of Art and Science, Amsterdam, 1969
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- The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
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