Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) LC

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dried safflower, Photo by X. Zhang


The petals of the safflower plant (Carthamus tinctorius L.) contain several yellow dyes, but most famous is its red dye, carthamin, which has been used as a red colorant for textiles and cosmetics, especially in Asia, for centuries. Carthamin is isolated by washing safflower petals extensively with water to remove the yellow dyes, extracting the insoluble red pigment into an alkaline solution and then precipitating the red dye itself by acidification with citric or acetic acid (e.g., from lemon juice, vinegar, etc.) Often the dye is further purified by adsorption onto cotton or other substances, from which it can be re-extracted and then used for dyeing [1].

In the Asian tradition, safflower was usually used with a yellow dye, usually one that contains berberine, to dye a deep red-color [2].


PEM E79076

Summary of results

Sample preparation

safflower sample (~0.1g) from Tanakano, Japan was extracted with 1 mL methanol: (v:v=1:1). Then the upper 30 μl of solution was removed for HPLC-DAD-MS analysis (20 μl was injected).


[[|600px|center|Absorbance at 350nm (mAU)]]


Identified compounds


[1] Jan Wouters, Cecily Grzywacz, A. Claro, Markers for Identification of Faded Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) Colorants by HPLC-PDA-MS, Studies in Conservation, 2010, 55, 186-203.

[2] Richard A. Laursen and Chika Mouri "Decomposition and analysis of cathamin in safflower-dyed textiles", e-Preservation Science 2013, 10, 35-37.