Saffron (pronounced /ˈsæfrən/ or /ˈsæfrɒn/) is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the saffron crocus. Crocus is a genus in the family Iridaceae. Each saffron crocus grows to 20–30 cm (8–12 in) and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, which are each the distal end of a carpel. Together with the styles, or stalks that connect the stigmas to their host plant, the dried stigmas are used mainly in various cuisines as a seasoning and colouring agent. Saffron, long among the world's most costly spices by weight, is native to Greece or Southwest Asia and was first cultivated in Greece. As a genetically monomorphic clone, it was slowly propagated throughout much of Eurasia and was later brought to parts of North Africa, North America, and Oceania.
The saffron crocus, unknown in the wild, likely descends from Crocus cartwrightianus, which originated in Crete; C. thomasii and C. pallasii are other possible precursors. The saffron crocus is a triploid that is "self-incompatible" and male sterile; it undergoes aberrant meiosis and is hence incapable of independent sexual reproduction—all propagation is by vegetative multiplication via manual "divide-and-set" of a starter clone or by interspecific hybridisation. If C. sativus is a mutant form of C. cartwrightianus, then it may have emerged via plant breeding, which would have selected for elongated stigmas, in late Bronze-Age Crete.
Saffron's bitter taste and iodoform- or hay-like fragrance result from the chemicals picrocrocin and safranal. It also contains a carotenoid dye, crocin, which imparts a rich golden-yellow hue to dishes and textiles. Its recorded history is attested in a 7th-century BC Assyrian botanical treatise compiled under Ashurbanipal, and it has been traded and used for over four millennia. Iran now accounts for approximately 90 percent of the world production of saffron. Because each flower's stigmas need to be collected by hand and there are only a few per flower, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.
Other articles related to "saffron":
... Saffron is a humanoid phoenix, ruling over a tribe of bird-human hybrids transformed from the waters of the cursed springs ... Saffron has mastery over fire, allowing him to use a number of attacks related to it, up to a gigantic fireball capable of vaporising several mountaintops in its path ... Saffron is able to fly, and is skilled with the Kinjakan, an ancient weapon of his people ...
... Saffron terror are acts of violence that have been described as being motivated by Hindu Nationalism ... The term comes from the association of the colour saffron with Hindu nationalism in India ... The phrase "saffron terror" entered public debate in India following the 29 September 2008 western India bombings ...
... The Saffron Toucanet (Pteroglossus bailloni) is a species of bird in the Ramphastidae family ... (2004) was able to show that the Saffron Toucanet belongs in the genus Pteroglossus ... its common name, it is, uniquely among toucans, overall saffron yellow ...
... The first known use of the term "Saffron Terror" is from an 2002 article in Frontline in reference to 2002 Gujarat Riots ... For incidents like these, Saffron terror has been used synonymously with "Anti-Muslim terrorism" or "Anti-Muslim reprisals" and also as Hindu terrorism ... Chidambaram urged Indians to beware of "Saffron terror" on August 25, 2010 at a meeting of state police chiefs in New Delhi ...
... Saffron's aroma is often described by connoisseurs as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, while its taste has also been noted as hay-li ... Saffron also contributes a luminous yellow-orange colouring to foods ... Saffron is widely used in Indian, Persian and European cuisines ...
Famous quotes containing the word saffron:
“Masts in the offing wagged their tops;
The swinging waves pealed on the shore;
The saffron beach, all diamond drops
And beads of surge, prolonged the roar.”
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