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Safflower is derived from same orchid as saffron. Where saffron is the stamen of the orchid, safflower is the petals. Sometimes ground safflower will be sold as saffron by unscrupulous or misinformed mechants. It is much inferior in intensity of flavour and colouring properties to saffron, but also cheaper.

Safflower can be used as a fabric dye, producing a range of subtle shades from yellow to pink.

Safflower oil, in modern times, is sometimes used as a replacement to linseed oil when grinding white pigments because it does not yellow as much as linseed oil over time.