Carthamus. Carthamus tinctorius L. Safflower.—The African, false, American, or dyers' saffron is an annual composite, with a smooth, erect stem, somewhat branched at top, and a foot or two in height. The plant is a native of India, the Levant, and Egypt, and is cultivated in those countries, as well as in various parts of Europe and America. The fruit yields 25.82 per cent. of fixed oil, the separated kernels of the seeds, 50.37 per cent., according to Fendler. (Ap. Ztg., 1904, 121.) The florets are brought to us chiefly from the ports of the Mediterranean. Safflower (Flores Carthami; Flours de carthame, Safran batard, Fr.; Saflor, Gr.; Cartamo, It., Sp.) in mass is of a red color, diversified by the yellow of the styles contained within the floret. It has a peculiar, slightly aromatic odor, and a scarcely perceptible bitterness. It contains a fixed oil; also two coloring substances—one red, insoluble in alkaline liquids, and called carthamin or carthamic acid by Dobereiner, who found it to possess weak acid properties; the other yellow, and soluble in water. Carthamin, C14H16O7, exists to the amount of from 0.3 to 0.6 per cent. only in the safflower, while the safflower-yellow, to which Malin gives the formula C24H30O15, is present to the amount of from 24 to 30 per cent. It is the former which renders safflower useful as a dye stuff. Kametaka and Perkins give the formula of carthamin as C25H24O12. (P. J., 1910, 299.) These flowers are sometimes fraudulently mixed with saffron, which they resemble in color, but from which they may be distinguished by their tubular form, and the yellowish style and filaments which they enclose. In large doses carthamus is said to be laxative, and, administered in warm infusion, diaphoretic. It is used in domestic practice, as a substitute for saffron, in measles, scarlatina, and other exanthematous diseases, to promote the eruption. An infusion, two drachms to a pint of boiling water, is usually employed pro re nata.
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.