Saffron from other Fall crocuses?

Started by PaulSiskind, October 20, 2023, 10:03:19 AM

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Has anyone ever harvested "saffron" from other Autimn Crocuses besides C. sativum?  (Obviously NOT from the Colchicums!)  Do any others yield a reasonably usable substitute for pure saffron?  Thanks for the info.


Hi Paul

I've done it in the past.  It's labor intensive and trick is drying it properly.

I have to admit I haven't seen a large difference between all the commercial sources available.
Arnold T.
North East USA


Just for the phylogeny, the C. pallasii and C. cartwrightianus might be a try.

Published: 06 November 2021
A new look at the genus Crocus L. phylogeny and speciation: Insight from molecular data and chromosome geography
The present study showed close genetic affinity between three species of C. sativus, C. pallasii and C. cartwrightianus; and BEAST chronological tree showed that C. sativus diverged from these species in Turkey-Greece the region around 1–2 MY ago.

But for the additive or EU/UK novel food regulation or US GRAS, the species other than C. sativus might be not in the definition of saffron as food or as food additive.


Yes! I have for years harvested C. thomasii and C. cartwrightianus stigmas! Now I have some large production beds of C. sativus. I wrote a blog entry about C. cartwrightianus the other day: Wild Saffron

The drying is not as tricky as the online literature makes it seem. It is definitely time consuming, but well worth it in my opinion. I put a sheet of parchment on a cookie sheet and set the oven to the lowest temp (mine will go to 170 deg) put the stigmas on the parchment, best if they aren't touching each other or piled up. Pin the door open and set the timer for 18 minutes. I check them after 10 minutes and give a little shake to turn them over. after they start to get a bit crunchy, I take them out and let them cool. They dry very quickly.  Then store in sealed jar and make Paella or lately, the most wonderful Portuguese fish stew called Caldeirada with saffron and our locally caught seabass, lingcod or halibut!

Pics attached of C. cartwrightianus ready to harvest, and a drying tray of stigmas ready to go into the oven.