Gardeners Dictionary: Carthamus
containing The Best and Newest Methods of Cultivating and Improving The Kitchen, Fruit, Flower Garden, and Nursery; As also for Performing the Practical Parts of Agriculture: Including The Management of Vineyards, With the Methods of Making and Preserving Wine, According to the present Practice of The most skilful Vignerons in the several Wine Countries in Europe.
Together with Directions for propagating and improving, From real Practice and Experience, All sorts of Timber Trees.
The Eight Edition,
Revised and Altered according to the latest System of Botany; and Embellished with several Copper-Plates, which were not in some former Editions.
By Philip Miller, F. R. S.
Gardener tothe Worshipdul Company of Apothecaries, at their Botanic Garden in Chelsea, and Member of the Botanic Academy at Florence.
Printed for the Author;
M. DCC. LXVIII.
CARTHAMUS. Lin. Gen. Plant. 838. [so called [------], Gr. to purge, because the seeds of it are purging,] Bastard Saffron, or Safflower in French; Cartame, ou Saffran Batard.
The Characters are,
It hath a flower composed of several hermaphrodite florets, included in one common scaly empalement. The Scales are composed of many flat leaves, broad at heir base, ending in a spine, and spread open below. The florets are funnel-shaped, of one leaf, cut into five equal segments at the top; these have five short hairy stamina, terminated by cylindrical tubular summits; in the center is situated a short germen, supporting a slender style the length of the stamina, crowned by a single stigma. The germen afterward becomes a single, oblong, angular seed, inclosed in the empalement.
This genus of plants is ranged in the first section of Linnæus's nineteenth class, intitlet Syngenesia Polygamia Æqualis; the flowers of this section being composed of only fruitful florets, and their summits are connected in form of a cylindrical tube.
The Species are,
1. CARTHAMUS (Tinctorius) foliis ovatis inegris ferratoaculeatis. Hort. Cliff. 394. Bastard Saffron with oval entire leaves, which have spiny serratures. Carthamus officinarum, flore croceo. Tourn. Inst. 457. Bastard Saffron of the shops, with a Saffron-coloured flower.
2. CARTHAMUS (Lanatus) caule poloso superne lanato, foliis inferioribus pinnatisidis, fummis amplexicaulibus dentatis. hort. Upsal. 251. Carthamus with a hairy stalk, woolly above, the under leaves indented, and the upper embracing the stalk. Atractylis lutea. C. B. P. Yellow Distaff Thistle.
3. CARTHAMUS (Creticus) caule læviusculo, calycibus sublanatis, flosculis subnovenis, foliis inferioribus lyratis, summis amplexicaulibus dentatis. Lin. Sp. 1136. Carthamus with a smooth stalk, woolly empalements, generally nine florets, the under leaves lyre-shaped, and the upper embracing the stalk. Cnicus Creticus Atractylidis folio & facie, flore leucophæo. Tourn. Cor. 33.
4. CARTHAMUS (Tingitanus) foliis radicalibus pinnatis, caulinis pinnatisidis, caule unifloro. Lin. Sp. 1163. Carthamus whose radical leaves are winged, those on the stalks wing-pointed, and one flower on a stalk. Cnicus perennis cæruleus Tingitanus. H. L. 162. Blue perennial Cnicus of Tangier.
5. CARTHAMUS (Carduncellus) foliis caulinis linearibus pinnatis longitudine plante. Lin. Sp. Plant. 831. Carthamus with narrow winged leaves on the stalks, which are as long as the plant. Cnicus cæruleus humilis Montis Lupi. H. L. Dward Cnicus of Mount Lupus with a blue flower.
6. CARTHAMUS (Cæruleus) foliis lanceolatis spinoso-dentatis, caule subuniflori. Hort. Cliff. 1163. Carthamus with spear-shaped leaves prickly indented, and one flower on each stalk. Cnicus cærulus asperior. C. B. P. 378. Rougher blue Cnicus.
7. CARTHAMUS (Arborescens) foliis ensiformibus sinuatodentatis. Prod. Leyd. 136. Cathamus with swordshaped leaves which are sinuated and indented. Cnicus Hispanicus arborescens foetidissimus. Toun. Inst. 451. Stinking shrubby Cnicus of Spain.
8. CARTHAMUS (Corymbosus) floribus umbellatis numerosis. Carthamus with many flowers in umbels. Chamæleon niger umbellatus, flore cærulo hyacinthino. C. B. P. 380. Black umbellated Chamæleon with blue flowers.
The first sort grows naturally in Egypt, and in some of the warm parts of Asia. I have frequently received the seeds of this from the British islands in America, but whether they were origibally carried thither, or if it grows naturally there, I could never be rightly informed. It is at present cultivated in many parts of Europe, and also in the Levant, from whence great quantities of Safflower are annually imported to England, for dyeing and painting.
This is an annual plant, which rises with a stiff ligneous stalk two feet and a half, or three feet high, dividing upward into many branches, which are garnished with oval pointed leaves, sitting close to the brances: these are entire, and are slightly sawed on their edges, each tooth being terminated by a short spine. The flowers grow single at the extremity of each branch: the heads of flowers are large, inclosed in a scaly empalement; each scale is broad at the base, flat, and formed like a leaf of the plant, terminating in a sharp spine. The lower part of the empalement spreads open, but the scales above closely embrace the florets, which stand out near an inch above the empalement; these are of a fine Saffron colour, and this is the part which is gathered for the uses above-mentioned. When the florets decay, the germen which is situated in each, become single, oblong, angular seeds, of a white colour, and have a pretty strong shell or cover to them. It flowers in July and August, and the seeds ripen in autumn; but if the season proves cold and moist, when the plants are in flower, there will be no good seeds produced; so that there are few seasons, wherein the seeds of this plant do come to perfection in England.
The seeds of this plant are sometimes used in medicine, and are accounted a prettu srong catgartucm but at present they are seldom prescribed. It is propagated by seeds, which should be sown in April, upon a bed of light earth: the best way is to sow them in drills, drawn at two feet and a half distance from each other than a foot in the rows; but as some of the seeds will fail, so a greater quantity should be sown, as it will be easy to thin the plants, at the time when the ground is hoed. If the seeds are good, the plants will appear in less than a month; and in a fortnight or three weeks after, it will be proper to hoe the ground to destroy the weeds, and at the same time the plants should be thinned where they are too close; but at this time they should not be separated to their full distance, left some of them should afterward fail; so that if they are now left six inches asunder, there will be room enough for the plants to grow, till the next time of hoeing, when they must be thinned to the distance they are to remain for good: after this they should have a third hoeing, which, if carefully performed in dry weather, will destroy the weeds and make the ground clean, so that the plants will require no farther care, till they come to flower; when, if the Safflower is intended for use, the florets should be cut off from the flowers as they come to perfection; but this must be performed when they are perfectly dry, and then they should be dried in a kiln, with a moderate fire, in the same manner as the true Saffron, which will prepare the commodity for use.
But if the plants are designed for seed, the flowers must not be gatheres; for id the florets are cut off, it will render the seeds abortive, though they may swell and grow to their usual size, as I have frequently experienced; yet when they are broken, there will be found nothing more than a shell without any kernel. And this frequently happens to be the cafe with these seeds, in wet cold seasons; though in very wet years the germen will rot, and never come so forward as to form a shell.
I have been informed, that this plant was formerly cultivated in the fields in several parts of England, for the dyers use, and particularly in Gloucestershire, where the common people frequently gathered the florets, and dried them, to put into their puddings and cheesecakes, to give them a colour; but some by putting it in too great quantity, gave their puddings a cathartic quality.
If this plant was ever cultivated here in great quantity, it is surprising how it came to be so totally neglected, as that at present, there are not the least traces to be met with, in any part of England, of its ever having been cultivated; nor is the commodity scarce known, except to those who deal in it: the quantity of this which is annually consumed in England is so great, as to make a very considerable article in trade, so that it might be very well worthy of the public attention; for although the seeds seldom come to perfection in England, yet these might be annually procured from abroad, and the plants would constantly produce the flower, which is the only part useful. A few years past I sent small parcel of the seeds of this plant to South Carolina, where I was afterward informed it grew amazingly, for in six weeks after the seeds were sown, the crop of Safflower was fit to cut, ant the gentleman to whom the seeds were given, sent some of the commodity to his brother in London, who was so kind as to send me a specimen of it, with an account that the dyers complained of its want of colour; and upon examining it, I found the florets were drawn out of their empalements the whole length, so that their tails which had been included in their covers were white, and being mixed together gave the whole a pale appearance; upon this I wrote to the gentleman to desire he would cut off the upper part of the florets with scissars, which would be easier performed, but have heard nothing from him since; however, a year or two after I received a letter from his excellency Governor Lyttleton, in which he wrote that the Safflower bid fair to prove one of the great branches of commerce, but how it has turned out I have not since heard.
This plant is cultivated in great plenty, in some parts of Germany, where the seeds constantly come to perfection; and as I have obtained a short account of their method of cultivation, from a curious gentleman of that country, so I shall insert it for the benefit of those who may be induced to engage in this undertaking.
The ground in which they propose to sow the Carthamus, has always a double fallow given to it, first to destroy the weeds, and afterward to make it fine. They make choice of their lightest land, and such as is clear from Couch Grafs, and other troublesome weeds. After the land has been fallowed a summer and winter, in which time they give it four ploughings, and harrow it between each, to break the clods, and pulverize it: in the latter end of March they give it the last ploughing, when they lay it in narrow furrows of about five feet or a little more, leaving a space of two feet between each: then they harrow these lands to make them level, and after it is finished, they sow the seeds in the following manner. With a small plough, they draw four shallow furrows in each land, at near a foot and a half distance, into which they scatter the seeds thinly; then with a harrow, whose teeth are little more than one inch long, they draw the earth into the drills to cover the seeds; after this, they draw a roller over the ground, to smotth and settle it. When the plants are come up, so as to be distinguished, they hoe the ground to destroy the weeds; and this first operation, where the plants happen to be close, they cut up the least promising, leaving them all single, at the distance of three or four inches; which they always suppose will be sufficient room for their growth, till the second time of hoeing, which must be performed in about five weeks after their first; in which they are guided by the growth of the weeds, for as this work is performed with a Dutch hoe, so they never suffer the weeds to grow to any size before they cut them; in which they judge right, for when the weeds are small, one man will hoe as much ground in a day, as can be performed by three, when they are permitted to grow large; and the weeds will be more effectually destroyed.
They give a third hoeing to the plants, about five or six weeks after the second; which generally makes the ground so clean, as to require no more cleaning, till the Carthamus is pulled up. When the plants begin to flower, and have thrust out their florets (or thrum) to a proper length, they go over the ground once a week to gather it; and as it is from time to time gathered, it is dried in a kiln for use. There is usually a succession of flowers for siz or seven weeks. After the crop is gathered, the stalks are pulled, and tied in bundles for fuel; and when they have been set up a few days to dry, they are carried off, and the ground is ploughed for Wheat; which they say, always succeeds well after this plants.
The good quality of this commodity is chiefly in the colour, which should be of a bright Saffron colour, and herein that which is cultivated in England often fails; for if there happens much rain during the time the plants are in flower, it will caise the florets to change to a dark or dirty yellow, which will also befal that which is gathered when there is any moisture remaining upon it; therefore great care must be taken not to gather it till the dew is quite fried off, nor should it be pressed together till it has been fried on the kiln. The manner of doing this being the same as for the true Saffron, I shall not mention it here, but desire the reader to turn to the article Crocus, where that is fully treated.
In Spain this plant is cultivated in their gardens, as Marigolds are in England, to put into their soups, olios, and other dishes, to give them a colour. The Jews also are very fond of this, and mix it in most of their viands; and it is very propable they were the persons who first carried the seeds of this plant to America, and taught the inhabitants the use of it, for it is now as commonly used by the English there, as in any part of Europe.
This plant may be admitted to have a place in the borders of large gardens, where it will add to the variety, during the time of its continuance in flower, which is commonly two months, or ten weeks; for if the seeds are sown in the beginning of April, the first flowers will appear in the middle of July at farthest; and there will be a succession of flowers on the side branches, till the end of September, or in mild warm seasons till the middle of October, during which time the plants will not be destitute of flowers; which being of a bright Saffron colour, make a pretty appearance; and if the plants are supported to prevent their being broken, or blown down by the wind, they will not interfere with the other flowers, because these have a regular upright growth.
When they are cultivated for this purpose, the seeds should be sown in the places where the plants are designed to remain, because they do not bear transplanting well; therefore three or four seeds should be sown in each patch, left any of them should dail; and when the plants are grown so strong as to be out of danger, the most promising in each patch should be left, and the others pulled up, that they may not draw or injure those which are to stand.
The second sort grows naturally in the south of France, Spain, and Italy, where the women use the stalks of this plant for distaffs, from whence it has the title of Distaff Thistle. It is by some called Bastard wild Saffron. The leaves of this plant are sometimes ordered for medicine, and are supposed to have the same virtues as Carduus Benedictus.
This plant is annual, perishing soon after the seeds are ripe; the lower leaves spread flat upon the ground; these are five or six inches long, narrow, and deeply indented on both sides; they are hairy, and have a few soft spines on their edges; the stalk rifes about two feet high, covered with hairs, and garnished with oblong hairy leaves, which embrace the stalk with their base, and are deeply sinuated, with sharp thorns growing on their edges. The upper part of the stalk divides into many branches, which are garnished with leaves of the same form, but smaller. The flowers cluster of stiff, hard, prickly leaves below the scaly empalement, which contains many yellow hermaphrodite flowers, succeeded by oblong angular seeds. It flowers in June and July, and the seeds ripen in autumn. If the seeds of this sort are sown in autumn, the plants will flower early the following summer, so there will be a certainty of good seeds. They may be sown upon a bed of earth in any situation, and will require no other culture, but to keep them clean from weeds, and thin the plants where they are too close; this being a medicinal plant, is kept in some gardens, but it hath little beauty.
There is a variety of this, which grows much taller, the heads are larger, and the leaves are placed closer upon the stalks. This was found by Dr. Tournefort in the Levant.
The third sort was also discovered by Tournefort in the island of Crete, from whence he sent the seeds to the royal garden in Paris. This differs from the former, in having a smooth stalk; the leaves are very stiff, deeply indented, smooth, and are armed with very strong spines; the heads of flowers are ocal, the florets white, and the plant grows near four feet high. This is an annual plant, which may be sown and treated in the same way as the former, and flowers about the same time.
The fourt sort hath a perennial root, but an annual stalk. This grows naturally in Spain, and was first brought to England and Tangier; the seeds of this are never perfected in England, so it is propagated by parting of the roots. The best time for transplanting and parting them, is about the beginning of March; they should have a dry soil and a warm situation, otherwise they are liable to be destroyed in severe winters.
The stalks of this rise about a foot and a half high, seldom putting out any branches, garnished with narrow spear-shaped leaves the whole length of the stalk; these are deeply sawed on their edges, each of the serratures ending in a sharp point. The stalk is terminated by one large scaly head of blue flowers, shaped like those of the other species.
The fifth sort grows naturally in the south of France, Spain, and Italy. This hath a perennial root and an annual stalk, which rises about six inches high; it is channeled, hairy, and garnished with long narrow leaves, ending in several sharp spined; their edges are indented, each indenture ending in a spine. Each stalk is terminated by one large head of blue flowers, having a leafy empalement, composed on very broad scales, each ending in a sharp spine. It flowers in June.
This sort is difficult to propagate in England, for the roots do not put out offsets like the former, so is only to be raised from seeds; which do not come to perfection here, unless the season proves warm and dry. This plant should have a dry soil and a warm situation.
The sixth sort is supposed b some, to be the same with the fourth, which is a great mistake, for they are extremely different. This rises with a single stalk about two feet high, which is of a purplish colour, hairy, and channeled, closely garnished with broad spear-shaped leaves, which are sharply sawed on their edges, and covered with a short hairy fown. The stalk is terminated by a single large head of blue flowers, having a scaly empalement, composed of two orders of leaves, the outer being broad, long, and armed with sharp spines on their edges; the inner are narrow, and terminate with a sharp thorn. It flowers in June and July, and the seeds ripen in aurumn. This sort may be propagated by parting of their roots, which should be performed in autumn, when the leaves decay. It should have a light dry soil, in which it will endure the cold of our winters, and continue many years. It may also be propagated by seeds, which ripen well in dry seasons, but in wet summers the seeds are generally abortive; this requires no other care but to keep it clean from weeds. It grows naturally in Spain, france and Italy, on arable land.
The seventh sort I received from Andalusia, where it grown naturally in great plenty. This rises with a shrubby perennial stalk to the height of eight or ten feet, dividing into many branches, garnished with pretty long sword-shaped leaves, which are indented, armed with spined on their edges, and embrace the stalks with their base. The branches are terminated by large, scaly, prickly heads of yellow flowers, which come out in July, but are never succeeded by seeds in this country, so can only be propagated by side shoots, slipped from the branches in the spring, and planted in pots filled with light sandy earth, and plunged into a moderate hot-bed, observing to shade them till they have taken root; then they must be gradually hardened, and removed into the open air, and when they have obtained strength, they may be separated, and some of them planted in a warm dry border, where they will endure the cold of our ordinary winters; but, in severe frost, they are frequently destroyed, therefore a plant or two should be kept in pots, and sheltered in winter to preserve the species.
The seeds of the eight sort were sent me from Spain, where it grows naturally. This hath a perennial root but an annual stalk, which is single, and never puts out any side branches; these are white, smooth, and channeled. The leaves are long, narrow, of a pale green, and closely armed on their edges with short stiff spines, which come out double. The stalks are terminated by single, oval, scaly heads of white flowers, each scale being terminated by a purplish spine. This squamous empalement is closely joined at the top, so as few of the hermaphrodite florets appear visible above it; and this is quarded by a border of long, narrow, prickly leaves, surrounding the head, which rise considerably above the flowers. This plant flowers in July and August, but seldom perfects its seeds in England. It should be planted in a light soil and a warm situation, where it will live abroad in out ordinary winters, but in severe frost it is sometimes destroyed. As the seeds of this sort rarely ripen in England, the only method to propagate the plant, is by parting the roots in the spring.