Herb Description & Ecology: Safflower is an herbaceous annual with bright yellow to orange flowers and a deep tap root. Resembling a thistle, Carthamus tinctorius grows in arid climates. Safflowers have been used as a textile dye since ancient Egypt and are occasionally employed in cooking as an affordable substitute to saffron. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, safflower is called hong hua and employed for its warming and bitter energetics. Safflower petals and stamens can be steeped as safflower tea, employed in infusions, used as a spice, or applied externally.