About Saffron


Saffron is a grassy plant related to Iridaceae family. Its scientific name is crocus sativus and it is called safran in French language. It is an eight year plant, without any stem and its root is bulbous and spherical (figure 1). The bulb is often twin, solid and hard and it is covered by a thin brown membrane.
The roots are extended from the bottom of the spherical bulb. Each bulb produces 6 to 9 narrow leaves which are like meadow grasses. There comes out a hard and firm stem from the middle part of the bulb to which the narrow grassy leaves are jointed. The flower bar is appeared out of the middle of the grassy leaves. This stem is the base for one, two or even sometimes three flower producing blossoms.


The saffron flower is the only part of the plant which grows at the beginning of autumn. It has an orderly and regular shape with a long and narrow bar which converts to t three co-colored petals & three sepals. They are so alike that it is hard to recognize them. The petals most often are bright violet, or purple with violet nervures. There grows the triple stamen twice as long as its anther. The saffron anther is yellow and the gynoecia’s is in the middle of the flower . the gynoecia s is an ovary, out of which grows a narrow style. The style is long bright yellow and ends with a three branched, 2 to 3 cm shining red or orange reddish stigma. The three-branched stigma and the bright yellow style are together called the red gold, the desert gold or the same saffron.
The procreative organs grow from May up to September but the growth is so slow that the plant seems to be still and asleep.
Saffron has a strong fragrance and a bitter and somehow hot taste.
Its white, yellow, gold, red, and green yellowish colors have put saffron among the most beautiful flowers. It is also an ornamental and very expensive flower.
A precise vision to saffron:
In the widthwise section, the stigma is rectangular, containing three xylem and sieve tubes. The epidermis cells are on the external side on which exist fine fibers. These 80 to 100 microns tiny fibers of seed powders can be seen in ground saffron.
If you put the stigma in water, glycerin or vegetable fats, it will become yellow reddish. In the case a sulfuric acid drop is added to the liquid, it turns into deep blue.
Every 100 grams of saffron consists of: 111 milligrams calcium, 525 milligrams phosphors, 1724 milligrams potassium, fat, wax, terpenic fragrant essence, cineol, three hydroxide picroretine, picrocrocine and crocine.
It also includes10-12 percent water, 5 to 7% other minerals and little flat essence which create the special smell of saffron.
Picrocrecine (picrocrocosoid) is a bitter and crystalline material.
Glucose produces a kind of fragrant aldehyde through hydrolyze acid called safranal.
Its enzymatic hydrolysis produces four hydroxyls, two cyclocitrals which have a hydroxyl factor on its fourth carbon and a double lizon(instead of two double bonds).
If we analyze it through emulsion, instead of safranal, it will produce hydroxyl aldehyde safranal. Crocine (crocosoid) is the dye substance of saffron which is solublein water and thin alcohol, semi soluble in absolute alcohol, and insoluble in ether. If analyzed, it will convert into two molecules of gensiobios and crocetin.
Crocine and crcine and crocetine will produce blue color in thick sulfuric acid. There is little free cartoneids by crocecine such as carten, nicopen, Alfa crocetine, beta crocetine , gama crocetine. They are referred to as Alfa, beta and gama crocetine. Karrer has indicted in his studies that there exist three kinds of kerosene. He designates and classified them by symbols.
Saffron species:
Obviously, saffron can be differently classified. A classification may be merely physical; it also can be in regard with the quality of the product.
Saffron is classified according to the cultivating area in spain; otherwise, it will be classified by the length or thickness of stigma and style.
In india, the quality of stigma is their criterion. Nice to know that india and spain are two saffron producing countries but their production volume is not much.
They classify saffron in England according to the color, fragrance and taste.
The difference in the above classifications is dependant on the fact that whether the country is a producer or consumer of the product. By the way iso3632 standard has specified the best classifications accepted worldwide. The following saffron species are the most famous in the international markets.