What is Safflower Seed and What Kind of Wild Birds Does Safflower Attract?
Ever wonder what safflower seed is?
Or what kind of wild birds it will attract or discourage from your feeders?
Safflower Seed Appeal
Cardinals, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, mourning doves, buntings, and grosbeaks enjoy safflower. However, larger birds like grackles and starlings avoid safflower, making it a good choice if you'd rather attract the smaller song birds than the larger, more aggressive birds.
Chickadee Eating a Safflower Seed Mix (Muffet on Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution license)
While squirrels find safflower distasteful, they will still eat it if hungry. Chipmunks are a much bigger fans of safflower seed than squirrels.
How to Offer
Safflower seed works in any kind of feeder you can use for sunflower seed. However, remember to use a ground feeder for doves and some kind of platform feeder for cardinals.
Where to Find Safflower Seed
Although difficult to find alone or in mixes at your local discount retailer, safflower seed can be purchased from quality suppliers.
Growing Your Own
You can grow safflower in your own garden, but growing information is sketchy. Since safflower has a deep taproot, you may have trouble establishing it in a container on your porch, patio, deck, or balcony.
An annual, safflower likes sun and well-drained soil but will need partial shade in warmer climates. You can start seeds outdoors after last frost, or indoors roughly 5 weeks before last frost.
Safflower, Carthamus tinctorious L., is also known as false saffron, American saffron, or saffron thistle. It's like a thistle and herbaceous. It has globular flower heads in brilliant yellow, orange, or red flowers and blooms in July.
Depending on the kind of safflower planted, safflower grows between 1 and 3 feet in height with blooms from 1 to 10 inches across. It's thought to be native to Iran and northwestern India but grows in North America and most of the Far East.
History and Uses
Mankind has cultivated safflower for centuries, as clothing dyes, as a linseed oil replacement in painting, herbal medicines like diuretics or fever treatments, and for food. The seeds are a good source of iron, magnesium, thiamin, potassium, niacin, and riboflavin, while the flowers are used to flavor food.
Safflower oil is the chief modern use, one type of safflower oil being monounsaturated and lower in saturates than olive oil.