DOWNY SAFFLOWER

Carthamus lanatus

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8yellow
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZMany
type
typeZclustered
stem
stem8round
stem
stem8spines
contact
contactZlowish
sex
sexZbisexual

Photo: © Mike Tibbetts
It grows up to 60cm high, and is branched. Stem leaves are few; most of the 'leaves' are around the inflorescence (and there might be bracts too).


Photo: © Mike Tibbetts
From above only one of the many gourd-shaped organs at the top of the whorls of flowers have opened to reveal the yellow rays of the inflorescence. The others will open soon (at top left one is beginning to open slightly revealing a small portion of the yellow rays.


Photo: © Mike Tibbetts
Just below the inflorescence is a pale-coloured large, yellow, gourd-shaped object, which probably contains the ovary. Below that many bracts fan out from the pale gourd-shaped object in a circle.


Photo: © Mike Tibbetts
The bracts fanning out from the pale 'gourd' are narrow triangular in shape with a longish sharp point at the end, and other spines sticking out from the edges of the broader part of the bract. The other flowers at the end of their long stalks have yet to emerge from the top part of their gourd shaped ovaries.


Photo: © Mike Tibbetts
The flowers are typically dandelion-type, some having 5 florets fanning from a short yellow 'stalk'.


Photo: © Mike Tibbetts
The 'disc' florets have their 5 limbs fanning out like a flower which is supported by a yellow 'stalk' behind them (here unseen). Each floret has a single, long, yellow style with a concolorant short stigma atop (2 visible on the left).

The 'gourd' is covered in white down as are the wide but tapering bracts around the lower half of the 'gourd'; each bract has a long, very sharp spike at the tip! These spikes are much longer than those spikes on the wider edges of the much longer bracts which have folded out away from the 'gourd'.



Photo: © Mike Tibbetts
The flower is covered in tiny insects. The 5-lobed open disc-florets with their concolorous stalks are better seen here. As are the sharp spines on the edges of the wider parts of the bracts.


Photo: © Mike Tibbetts
The inflorescence from above.


Photo: © Mike Tibbetts
Showing the sharp spines on the numerous bracts and on the alternate leaves lower down the sturdy flower stalk.


Photo: © Mike Tibbetts
An unopened 'gourd' from above, and its numerous long bracts fanning out below it.


Photo: © Mike Tibbetts
All the longer spines on the bracts immediately surrounding the 'gourd' look vicious!


Photo: © Mike Tibbetts
The main stem branching, with a stalkless leaf attached directly to the stem just beneath each branch.


Not to be semantically confused with : Meadow Saffron (Colchicum autumnale) [a plant with similar name belonging to a differing family]

Nor with : Carthusian Pink (Dianthus carthusianorum) nor with Dryopteris carthusiana (Narrow Buckler-Fern)

Uniquely identifiable characteristics (for a Safflower).

Distinguishing Feature : The bulbous gourd-shaped 'vase' beneath the inflorescence.

Downy Safflower is downy unlike Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), which has fewer and shorter and less vicious spines on its leaf-edges, and no spines on the bracts around the 'gourd' - in fact the bracts are rounded at the end rather than tapering of Downy Safflower. The flowers of Safflower itself are also reddish-orange (rather than orange-yellow of Downy Safflower). An orange-red dye can be obtained from Safflower (your Author cannot find any reference to Downy Safflower being ever used for any dye it might, or might not, produce - Downy Safflower lacks the specific epithet always associated with plants harvested for their dye [namely tinctorius, or similar].

CARTHAMIN


Carthamin, formerly known as Carthamine (but it contains no nitrogen atoms and is not an amine). It is a red dye found naturally within Safflower and which is also used as a food colouring under the name of Natural Red 26. It is a near dimer, with two nearly identical halves, the only difference being the -OH on one side of the molecule being replaced by =O on the opposing side (near the centre of the molecule). It is a chalconoid with two Chalcone moieties in it, one on each side. It also contains two glucose molecules - the two rings at the bottom.


  Carthamus lanatus  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Asteraceae  

Distribution
 family8Daisy & Dandelion family8Asteraceae
 BSBI maps
genus8Carthamus
Carthamus
(Safflowers)

DOWNY SAFFLOWER

Carthamus lanatus

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]