Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and... · 2017. 8. 26. · Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (2024)

×

Log in Upload File

  • Most Popular
  • Study
  • Business
  • Design
  • Technology
  • Travel
  • Explore all categories
  • Home
  • Documents
  • Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial

162

Upload: others

Post on 14-Mar-2021

13 views

Category:

Documents


0 download

Report

  • Download
Facebook Twitter E-Mail LinkedIn Pinterest

TRANSCRIPT

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (3)

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (4)

SAFFRON

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (5)

Medicinal and Aromatic Plants—Industrial ProfilesIndividual volumes in this series provide both industry and academia with in-depth coverageof one major medicinal or aromatic plant of industrial importance.

Edited by Dr Roland Hardman

Volume 1Valerianedited by Peter J.Houghton

Volume 2Perillaedited by He-Ci Yu, Kenichi Kosuna and Megumi Haga

Volume 3Poppyedited by Jenó Bernáth

Volume 4Cannabisedited by David T.Brown

Volume 5NeemH.S.Puri

Volume 6Ergotedited by Vladimír Kren and Ladislav Cvak

Volume 7Carawayedited by Éva Németh

Volume 8Saffronedited by Moshe Negbi

Other volumes in preparation

Allium, edited by K.ChanArtemisia, edited by C.WrightBasil, edited by R.Hiltunen and Y.HolmCardamom, edited by P.N.Ravindran and KJ.MadusoodananChamomile, edited by R.Franke and H.SchilcherCinnamon and Cassia, edited by P.N.Ravindran and S.RavindranColchicum, edited by V.ŠimánekCurcuma, edited by B.A.Nagasampagi and A.P.PurohitEucalyptus, edited by J.Coppen

Please see the back of this book for other volumes in preparation in Medicinal and AromaticPlants—Industrial Profiles

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (6)

SAFFRONCrocus sativus L.

Edited by

Moshe NegbiFaculty of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel

harwood academic publishersAustralia • Canada • China • France • Germany • India • JapanLuxembourg • Malaysia • The Netherlands • Russia • SingaporeSwitzerland

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (7)

This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2006.

“To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’scollection of thousands of eBooks please go to www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk.”

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by licenseunder the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint, part of the Gordon and BreachPublishing Group.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means,electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any informationstorage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Printedin Singapore.

Amsteldijk 1661st Floor1079 LH AmsterdamThe Netherlands

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromaticplants: industrial profiles; v. 8)1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial applications3. Saffron crocus—Therapeutic useI. Negbi, Moshe584.3′8

ISBN 0-203-30366-0 Master e-book ISBN

ISBN 0-203-34391-3 (Adobe eReader Format)ISBN 90-5702-394-6 (Print Edition)ISSN 1027-4502

‘The illustration on the cover is taken from Theophrastus’ De Historia Plantarum,Amsterdam apud H.Laurentium (typis J.Broerssen), 1664 (page 667, Crocus).Courtesy of Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Carnegie MellonUniversity, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (8)

v

CONTENTS

Preface to the Series viiPreface ixContributors xi

1 Saffron Cultivation: Past, Present and Future Prospects 1

Moshe Negbi

The Saffron Plant (Crocus sativus L.) and its Allies 2 Botany, Taxonomy and Cytology of C.sativus L. and its Allies 19

Brian Mathew

3 Reproduction Biology of Saffron and its Allies 31Maria Grilli Caiola

4 Saffron Chemistry 45Dov Basker

The Present State of Saffron Cultivation and Technology 5 Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) in Italy 53

Fernando Tammaro

6 Saffron Cultivation in Azerbaijan 63N.Sh.Azizbekova and E.L.Milyaeva

7 Saffron Cultivation in Greece 73Apostolos H.Goliaris

8 Saffron Cultivation in Morocco 87Ahmed Ait-Oubahou and Mohamed El-Otmani

9 Saffron Technology 95Dov Basker

Futuristic Aspects of Saffron Cultivation, Usage and Industry 10 Saffron in Biological and Medical Research 103

Fikrat I.Abdullaev and Gerald D.Frenkel

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (9)

11 Mechanized Saffron Cultivation, Including Harvesting 115Pier Francesco Galigani and Francesco Garbati Pegna

12 Sterility and Perspectives for Genetic Improvement of Crocus sativus L. 127Giusseppe Chichiriccò

13 In Vitro Propagation and Secondary Metabolite Production in Crocussativus L. 137Ora Plessner and Meira Ziv

vi CONTENTS

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (10)

PREFACE TO THE SERIES

There is increasing interest in industry, academia and the health sciences in medicinaland aromatic plants. In passing from plant production to the eventual product usedby the public, many sciences are involved. This series brings together informationwhich is currently scattered through an ever increasing number of journals. Eachvolume gives an in-depth look at one plant genus, about which an area specialisthas assembled information ranging from the production of the plant to markettrends and quality control.

Many industries are involved such as forestry, agriculture, chemical, food, flavour,beverage, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and fragrance. The plant raw materials areroots, rhizomes, bulbs, leaves, stems, barks, wood, flowers, fruits and seeds. Theseyield gums, resins, essential (volatile) oils, fixed oils, waxes, juices, extracts andspices for medicinal and aromatic purposes. All these commodities are traded world-wide. A dealer’s market report for an item may say “Drought in the country oforigin has forced up prices”.

Natural products do not mean safe products and account of this has to be takenby the above industries, which are subject to regulation. For example, a number ofplants which are approved for use in medicine must not be used in cosmetic products.

The assessment of safe to use starts with the harvested plant material which hasto comply with an official monograph. This may require absence of, or prescribedlimits of, radioactive material, heavy metals, aflatoxins, pesticide residue, as wellas the required level of active principle. This analytical control is costly and tendsto exclude small batches of plant material. Large scale contracted mechanisedcultivation with designated seed or plantlets is now preferable.

Today, plant selection is not only for the yield of active principle, but for theplant’s ability to overcome disease, climatic stress and the hazards caused bymankind. Such methods as in vitro fertilisation, meristem cultures and somaticembryogenesis are used. The transfer of sections of DNA is giving rise to controversyin the case of some enduses of the plant material.

Some suppliers of plant raw material are now able to certify that they are supplyingorganically-farmed medicinal plants, herbs and spices. The Economic Union directive(CVO/EU No 2092/91) details the specifications for the obligatory quality controls tobe carried out at all stages of production and processing of organic products.

Fascinating plant folklore and ethnopharmacology leads to medicinal potential.Examples are the muscle relaxants based on the arrow poison, curare, from speciesof Chondrodendron, and the antimalarials derived from species of Cinchona andArtemisia. The methods of detection of pharmacological activity have becomeincreasingly reliable and specific, frequently involving enzymes in bioassays andavoiding the use of laboratory animals. By using bioassay linked fractionation ofcrude plant juices or extracts, compounds can be specifically targeted which, forexample, inhibit blood platelet aggregation, or have antitumour, or antiviral, orany other required activity. With the assistance of robotic devices, all the membersof a genus may be readily screened. However, the plant material must be fullyauthenticated by a specialist.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

vii

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (11)

The medicinal traditions of ancient civilisations such as those of China andIndia have a large armamentarium of plants in their pharmacopoeias which areused throughout South East Asia. A similar situation exists in Africa and SouthAmerica. Thus, a very high percentage of the world’s population relies on medicinaland aromatic plants for their medicine. Western medicine is also responding. Alreadyin Germany all medical practitioners have to pass an examination in phytotherapybefore being allowed to practise. It is noticeable that throughout Europe and theUSA, medical, pharmacy and health related schools are increasingly offering trainingin phytotherapy.

Multinational pharmaceutical companies have become less enamoured of thesingle compound magic bullet cure. The high costs of such ventures and the endlesscompetition from me too compounds from rival companies often discourage theattempt. Independent phytomedicine companies have been very strong in Germany.However, by the end of 1995, eleven (almost all) had been acquired by themultinational pharmaceutical firms, acknowledging the lay public’s growing demandfor phytomedicines in the Western World.

The business of dietary supplements in the Western World has expanded fromthe Health Store to the pharmacy. Alternative medicine includes plant based products.Appropriate measures to ensure the quality, safety and efficacy of these either alreadyexist or are being answered by greater legislative control by such bodies as theFood and Drug Administration of the USA and the recently created European Agencyfor the Evaluation of Medicinal Products, based in London.

In the USA, the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act of 1994 recognisedthe class of phytotherapeutic agents derived from medicinal and aromatic plants.Furthermore, under public pressure, the US Congress set up an Office of AlternativeMedicine and this office in 1994 assisted the filing of several Investigational NewDrug (IND) applications, required for clinical trials of some Chinese herbalpreparations. The significance of these applications was that each Chinesepreparation involved several plants and yet was handled as a single IND. Ademonstration of the contribution to efficacy, of each ingredient of each plant, wasnot required. This was a major step forward towards more sensible regulations inregard to phytomedicines.

My thanks are due to the staff of Harwood Academic Publishers who have madethis series possible and especially to the volume editors and their chapter contributorsfor the authoritative information.

Roland Hardman

PREFACE TO THE SERIES

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

viii

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (12)

PREFACE

The saffron plant (Crocus sativus L.) and its spice—the stigmas taken away fromsaffron flowers and dried—are shrouded in a glorious and expensive air and someignorance, even among scholars. Being aware of the lack of comprehensive bookson saffron I accepted the invitation of Harwood Academic Publishers to edit thecurrent book.

The current volume lacks articles on saffron’s cultivation in Spain and India.Unfortunately, appeals to saffronologists in these countries did not produce anyresults. Contrarily, almost all other requests to contributors resulted in the return ofa manuscript. It is with gratitude that I thank these authors for their co-operation,and moreover, for their positive responses to requests for clarifications andamendments. Since this is a multiauthored volume, some points are repeated inseveral chapters. This is unavoidable, unless the editor serves as a super-author.Likewise in some chapters there are internal repetitions; removing these wouldhave changed the spirit of the articles, thus here they are given as the authorsthought best to present them.

This volume is divided into three main sections. The first details the botany,including Brian Mathew’s masterful taxonomic chapter, followed by chapters onsaffron’s reproduction biology and its chemistry. The second deals with the presentstate of saffron cultivation in Azerbaijan (first published in the West), Greece, Italyand Morocco. The last chapter of the second part is dedicated to saffron technology.The chapters in the last section describe futuristic aspects of saffron cultivation,usage and industry. In this section Pier Francesco Galigani and Francesco GarbatiPegna sum up the studies on saffron technology carried out in Florence, whichseems to be the world centre of saffron engineering.

I expect that this volume will evoke enthusiasm for saffron, which I know ispositively infectious. It happened to my colleagues and students Naza Azizbekova,Dov Basker, Benjamin Dagan, Ada Dror, Dalia Greenberg-Kaslasi, Ora Plessner,Betsy Sachs and Meira Ziv. Their share in the present volume is larger than thenumber of times they are cited.

I am grateful to Dr Roland Hardman, the editor of the series, for the invitationto edit this volume and for his continuing advice. I warmly acknowledge the fruitfulcollaboration of Harwood Academic Publishers and Camille Vainstein of the Facultyof Agriculture at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The preparation of thisvolume was partially supported by the Israel Science Foundation (founded by theIsrael Academy of Science and Humanities). I would like to express my gratitude tothe Wellcome. Institute for the History of Medicine in London where I worked onthis volume while on sabbatical leave.

Moshe Negbi

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

ix

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (13)

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (14)

xi

Fikrat I.AbdullaevUnidad de Investigacion en SaludIfantilInstituto Nacional de PediatriaAv. Insurgentes Sur3700-C 04530 Mexico

Ahmed Ait-OubahouDepartment of HorticultureInstitut Agronomique et Vétérinaire

Hassan IIB.R 121Aït Melloul80150 AgadirMorocco

N.Sh.AzizbekovaPlant Science DepartmentUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouver, B.C.Canada V6T 1Z4

Dov BaskerDepartment of Food ScienceAgricultural Research OrganizationThe Volcani CentreBet DaganIsrael

Maria Grilli CaiolaDepartment of BiologyUniversity of Rome “Tor Vergata”Via delle Ricerca Scientifica 100133 RomeItaly

Giusseppe ChichiriccòDepartment of Environmental SciencesUniversity of L’AquilaVia Vetoio67100 L’AquilaItaly

Mohamed El-OtmaniDepartment of HorticultureInstitut Agronomique et Vétérinaire

Hassan IIB.P. 121Aït Melloul80150 AgadirMorocco

Gerald D.FrenkelDepartment of Biological SciencesRutgers University101 Warren StreetNewarkNJ 07102USA

Pier Francesco GaliganiDipartimento di Ingegneria Agraria e

ForestaleUniversità degli Studi di FirenzePiaza delle Cascine15–50144 FirenzeItaly

Apostolos H.GoliarisDepartment of Aromatic and Medicinal

PlantsAgricultural Research Centre

of Macedonia-Thrace57001 Thermi-Thessaloniki Greece

Brian Mathew90 Foley RoadClaygateKT10 ONBUK

CONTRIBUTORS

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (15)

E.L.MilyaevaTimiryazev Institute of Plant PhysiologyRussian Academy of Sciences35 Botanicheskaya StreetMoscow127276 Russia

Moshe NegbiDepartment of Agricultural BotanyFaculty of Agriculture, Food and

Environmental Quality SciencesThe Hebrew University of JerusalemP.O. Box 12Rehovot 76100Israel

Francesco Garbati PegnaDipartimento di Ingegneria Agraria e

ForestaleUniversità degli Studi di FirenzePiaza delle Cascine15–50144 FirenzeItaly

Ora PlessnerDepartment of Agricultural BotanyFaculty of Agriculture, Food and

Environmental Quality SciencesThe Hebrew University of JerusalemP.O. Box 12Rehovot 76100Israel

Fernando TammaroDepartment of Environmental SciencesUniversity of L’AquilaVia Vetoio67100 L’AquilaItaly

Meira ZivDepartment of Agricultural BotanyFaculty of Agriculture, Food and

Environmental Quality SciencesThe Hebrew University of JerusalemP.O. Box 12Rehovot 76100Israel

CONTRIBUTORSxii

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (16)

Other volumes in preparation in Medicinal and Aromatic Plants—Industrial Profiles

Ginkgo, edited by T.van BeekGinseng, by W.CourtHypericum, edited by K.Berger Büter and B.BüterIllicium and Pimpinella, edited by M.Miró JodralKava, edited by Y.N.SinghLicorice, by L.E.Craker, L.Kapoor and N.MamedovPiper Nigrum, edited by P.N.RavindranPlantago, edited by C.Andary and S.NishibeSalvia, edited by S.E.KintziosStevia, edited by A.D.KinghornTea, edited by Y.S.ZhenTea Tree, edited by I.Southwell and R.LoweTilia, edited by K.P.Svoboda and J.CollinsThymus, edited by W.Letchamo, E.Stahl-Biskup and F.SaezTrigonella, edited by G.A.PetropoulosUrtica, by G.Kavalali

This book is part of a series. The publisher will accept continuation orders which may becancelled at any time and which provide for automatic billing and shipping of each title inthe series upon publication. Please write for details.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (17)

1

1. SAFFRON CULTIVATION: PAST, PRESENT ANDFUTURE PROSPECTS

MOSHE NEGBI

Department of Agricultural Botany,The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,

PO Box 12, Rehovot,76100, Israel

ABSTRACT This is an introductory chapter to a volume on saffron, containing12 more chapters ranging from saffron biology, chemistry, cultivation, and newdevelopments in agronomic methods to novel uses. This article deals briefly withthe domestication of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus L.), describes the presentstate of saffron cultivation around the world, and gives acreage and productionwhen available. The recent developments in cultivation and production methods,in the field and in vitro, are discussed. Traditional uses of saffron and thedevelopment of new uses in histochemistry and medicine are reviewed.

“Nothing is adulterated as much as saffron,” Pliny (NH 21 32).

INTRODUCTION

Evidence from Aegean Bronze Age art, Linear B documents, classical authors(Theophrastus, 371–287 BC, Pliny, 23–79 AD and Dioscorides, 1st century AD)and taxo-cytological studies was brought together in an attempt to outline theprocess of saffron domestication. In this study, Negbi and Negbi (in press) arguedthat saffron was first harvested from the wild Crocus cartwrightianus, a mutantof which—Crocus sativus, distinguished by its elongated stigmas—was observed,selected and domesticated on Crete during the Late Bronze Age. Saffron was laterestablished as a minor but expensive crop in the Old World from India to Britain(Warburg 1957). Nonetheless, the detailed history of saffron’s establishment invarious regions of the Old World awaits a categorical study. During the past fourdecades, saffron’s glorious past has been praised and its present diffculties lamented(Amigues 1988, Anon. Undated, Basker and Negbi 1983, Coppock 1984, DiFrancesco 1990, Fois Sussarello 1990, Greenberg and Lambert Ortiz 1983, Ingram1969, Jossen and Stork 1983, Mir 1992, Negbi and Negbi, in press, Raines Ward1988, Rees 1988, Skrubis 1990, Szita 1987, Tammaro 1990, Tammaro and DiFrancesco 1978, Tuveri 1990).

Saffron cultivation has been linked with either concealed or overt research intraditional countries of cultivation such as Azerbaijan, France, Greece, India, Iran,Italy and Spain, and in other countries such as China, Israel, Japan and Mexico.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (18)

M.NEGBI2

Progress in cultivation methods in Italy, Greece and Israel was presented at tworecent symposia (Bezzi 1987, Tammaro and Marra 1990), and is described in anagricultural manual (Tammaro and Di Francesco 1978, Di Francesco 1990) andin this volume (Basker, Chichirricò, Galigani and Garbati Pegna, Grilli Caiola,Goliaris, Tammaro and Plessner and Ziv). Research in India is published periodically(Bali and Sagwal, 1987, Chrungoo and Farooq 1984, Dhar et al. 1988, Koul andFarooq 1984, Nair et al. 1992, Nauriyal et al. 1977).

Moreover, recently there has been a tendency to outline future technologicalbreakthroughs (Chichiriccò 1990, Laneri 1990, Negbi 1990). The envisaged Utopia,which would enable continued saffron production, is based on research on thefollowing:

(A) genetic improvement, via breeding the saffron crocus (C. sativus) with itsclose allies,

(B) developments in corm production in vitro,(C) in vitro techniques to cultivate the spice itself, namely the stigmas of the

saffron flower.

The present volume comes a decade after Tammaro and Marra’s proceedings “Lozafferano” (1990), in a period when many saffronologists are exploring ways ofimproving saffron cultivation and generating the spice. Several chapters are devotedto these futuristic aspects, and in all the other chapters, better methods of saffronproduction are contemplated.

SAFFRON CULTIVATION AREA, PRODUCTION AND EXPORT

The dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, in their natural form, as coupe saffronand powder, are produced worldwide at an annual rate of 50 tonnes (Oberdieck1991). Spain is the world’s foremost exporter, and perhaps producer, of saffron. AUSDA Foreign Agricultural Service report summarizing Spanish production andexport is presented here (Table 1.1), showing that Spain has retained approximatelythe same acreage for three decades (Ingram 1969). It is worth noting that theaverage yield has remained at 7 to 11 kg per ha, values much higher than those

Table 1.1 Data from Spain on cultivation area, production and exports. USDA foreign agriculturalservice’s data (Anon. 1992)

1 Average yield for the whole period is 8.24 kg per ha.2 Export data available only for the years 1985 and 1986.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (19)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION 3

obtained in most other countries, except Italy (and Turkey?). The largest importersof saffron are Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates, with the USA coming next(Raines Ward 1988). Saffron imports to the USA in recent years have averagedover 3 tonnes annually and been valued at about $3,300,000. Virtually all shipmentshave been from Spain, with most of the balance coming from Italy and India(Anon. 1992). The same source gives a New York spot price of $1,045 per kg forSpanish saffron, in each of the first three months of 1992. Retail prices in the USAhave risen to $5,000 per kg and up to $8,000 per kg at Bloomingdale’s, and evento $14,000 in 0.25 g packets at Macy’s (Allan and Fowler 1985, Raines Ward1988, Szita 1986). Prices of raw Spanish saffron in Germany fluctuate betweenDM 1,200 and 2,100 per kg (Oberdieck 1991). In Britain, retail prices of £4,500per kg have been recorded (Rees 1988).

Saffron is cultivated in Greece by a 2,500-family-strong co-operative in Krokosand neighbouring Macedonian villages (Skrubis 1990). During the 1980s, therewas a dramatic reduction in saffron cultivation in Greece (Table 1.2). The reductionin acreage and yield may reflect a common cause for abandoning saffron cultivation,namely increasing labour costs. Even in the best years, the yields in Krokos werelower than the Spanish average, and this is probably not solely due to the relativedrought conditions, as stated by Skrubis (1990).1 Greece exports most of its saffronto Germany, Switzerland, China, Sweden, the UK, the USA and Hong Kong, andeven to Italy and Spain. From 1979 to 1989, the income varied from $800 to$1,000 per kg. In Southern Greece, Crete, Santorini and other Aegean islands,saffron is still being collected from the wild C.cartwrightianus (Mathew 1982,pers. commun. September 1997). Saffron production in Morocco is confined toareas not frequently described in the literature (Chitt et al. 1985, Wallach 1989).In the Rivers of Palms irrigation system, in Morocco, saffron, henna and rose (forrose oil) are cultivated as cash crops and from a common 2-acre plot, a familyearns about $350 annually. An updated report on saffron in Morocco by Ait-Oubahou and El-Otmani appears in this volume.

Available data on world production of saffron is presented in Table 1.3. I couldnot find production data for some countries known to grow saffron, such as Austria,

Table 1.2 Saffron production in Krokos and adjacent villages, Macedonia, Greece from 1982 to1988 (based on Skrubis 1990)

1 Average yield for the whole period is 4.4 kg per ha.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (20)

M.NEGBI4

Libya and Mexico (Di Francesco 1990, Löpez Camacho and Fucikovsky 1985).Saffron is cultivated in the semiarid Khorasan region of Iran (Behzad et al. 1992a,b).According to a newspaper article, some 6,000 ha in this region produce 30 tonnesannually (Anon. 1989). However, further documentation is needed to confirmthat Iran is the largest producer of saffron. In India, saffron cultivation is for themost part limited to a small region in Pampore, Kashmir (Mir 1992). For thelatest available figures on the cultivation area and yield see Siddique et al. (1989).2

Italy produces saffron in Altopiano di Navelli (Provincia dell Aquila), Sardinia3

and Emilia-Romagna. During the 13th century, saffron was grown in Tuscany andeven exported to the Levant (Abulafla, 1882). Recently, cultivation in San Giminiano,Tuscany has been started (Galigani and Garbati Pegna, this volume). The highestsaffron yields have been reported from Navelli, where they vary from 10 to 18 kg ofdried stigmas per ha (Tammaro 1990). Over the past 160 years, cultivation areas inNavelli have decreased, from 450 ha in 1830, 300 ha in 1910, and under 10 ha inthe 1980s, to 6 ha in 1992. Production over the years has fluctuated greatly, droppingfrom 5.5 tonnes to 1.4 kg, then rising again to 90 kg in 1992 (Di Crecchio 1960, DiFrancesco 1990, and pers. commun., Tammaro 1990, Tammaro and Di Francesco1978). Sardinia is the largest producer in Italy and the area of saffron cultivationthere is increasing. Fourteen out of 19 ha are cultivated near San Giovano Monrealeand the yields are from 8 to 9 kg per ha (Tuveri 1990).

Table 1.3 Available data on world production of saffron

1 L.Di Francesco, Ispettorato Provinciale dell’Agricoltura, L’Aquila, pers. commun.2 C.Zanzucchi, Consorzio Cumunale Parmensi, pers. commun.3 Saffron is mainly grown in the Orleans area. French acreage and export is not well cited: Ingram(1969) cites exports in 1966 as 1 tonne, Bali and Sagwal (1987) cited acreage and export (for 1972/73)as 400 ha and 1 tonne, respectively. Brighton (1977) and Daniel Royer (pers. commun.) do not give anydetails on saffron cultivation in France.4 Dr H.Vurdu, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, pers. commun.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (21)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION 5

Saffron production in Turkey is limited to the town of Safranbolu near theBlack Sea, and was quite low in the early 1980s (Mathew 1984). A few years ago,only one farmer grew it, on an area covering a little over 0.1 ha, with maximumyields of 20 kg per ha (H.Vurdu, pers. commun.).

Reductions in saffron cultivation areas in some major producer countries havenot discouraged efforts to revive its cultivation and even grow it in new territories.Cultivation experiments carried out in Japan (Kawatani et al. 1961) appear tohave been discontinued, though corm exports are reported from that country (Szita1987). However, related studies are still in progress, especially in vitro culture forcorms and stigma production (Himeno and Sano 1987, Himeno et al. 1988, Isaand Ogasawara 1988, Kamikura and Nakazato 1984, Koyama et al. 1988, Otsukaet al. 1992, Sano and Himeno 1987, Sarma et al. 1990, 1991).

In China, cultivation trials have been carried out in Peking, Changchun andZhejiang provinces (Chen and Sze 1977, Lu et al. 1988, Yang and Miao 1985).The 1985–87 trials in Zhejiang yielded very small amounts of the spice—0.8 kg ofdry flowers obtained from a mu (0.067 ha), i.e. 11.9 kg per ha. This would be agood yield if the translator had written “dry stigmas” instead of “dry flowers”.Saffron is probably also produced in Tibet (Szita 1987). Experimental studies inIsrael have been reported (Negbi et al. 1989, Negbi 1990). Other experimentshave been initiated on a semi-industrial scale (N.Sh.Azizbekova, Y.Foa andE.Shiloni, pers. commun.).

The major producers of saffron do not engage in corm export (Szita 1987). InNavelli, under-sized corms are fed to pigs (pers. commun.). However, cultivationareas are extended using locally grown saffron corms in India (Madan et al. 1966)and probably in other countries. The Netherlands and Japan produce and exportcorms (Szita 1987), but the extent of this trade is unknown to me.

PHYSIOLOGICAL STUDIES

Flowering

Control of flowering has been studied recently in an attempt to enhancehysteranthous (following flowering) leaf appearance in the saffron crocus. Thisnormally sub-hysteranthous geophyte (Mathew 1982) flowers in autumn, before(as in Macedonia, Goliaris, this volume), concomitant with or following leafappearance. Treated plants flowered without previous root or leaf emergence,thus hysteranthously, if the corms were kept dry at 15°C (Plessner et al. 1989).This study was performed to enable the replacement of labour-intensive manualpicking of the flowers for spice separation with a mechanical harvester prior toplanting. Late corm planting did not harm corm production (Plessner et al. 1989,compare with Kawatani et al. 1961).4

In the genus Crocus, the flower is situated on a minute peduncle (Dafni et al.1981, Fritsch 1939, 1942, Mathew 1982, Wilkins 1985). Only the elongatedperianth tube connects the tip of the peduncle with the free perianth lobes, whichare barely above ground. The peduncle elongates in fertile crocus species afterfertilization and eventually puts the capsules at ground level. In an English

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (22)

M.NEGBI6

translation of a Russian article by Azizbekova et al. (1978), one gets the impressionthat treatment with gibberellin induced elongation of the flower stalk. In fact, itrepresented only an increase in the length of the perianth tube. Hormonal treatmentthat would cause elongation of the true flower stalk (peduncle) at flowering istherefore still needed.5

Flower ontogenesis of C. sativus was studied in Azerbaijan and Russia (Azizbekovaand Milyaeva 1979, Milyaeva and Azizbekova 1978), Kashmir (Koul and Farooq1984) and Israel (Greenberg-Kaslasi 1991). Although the anatomical details arequite similar in the three studies, the timing of the transition from vegetative toreproductive shoot apex differed. In Azerbaijan, it began in March, in Kashmir inJuly and in Israel in March—April. Flower organs formed in July, with almostcomplete flowers being observed by the end of the month. Greenberg-Kaslasi (1991)suggested that corm size or seasonal variations determine the difference in transitiondates. She proposed that the exact internal and environmental variables determiningtransition period and flower development are essential to the timing of flowering.

Corm Production

The importance of adequate corm production is self-evident in the sterile taxonsaffron crocus, which has been reproduced vegetatively for millennia by annuallyreplacing corms. This practice was described as early as 300 BC by Theophrastusin Historia Plantarum 6.6.10 and in the first century AD by Pliny in NaturalHistory 21.32 (Negbi 1989). Since almost every sprouting bud produces a cormand there are about 10 buds on a flowering-size corm, factors affecting sproutingare highly important for corm production. The size of the daughter corms is equallyimportant, since for the most part, only flowering-size corms are used for planting.The relationships between corm size, flower number and weight of stigmatic lobeshave recently been described (De Mastro and Ruta 1993).

Planting depth affects corm production: more buds sprouted from shallowlyplanted corms than from deeply planted ones—resulting in more daughter corms(Negbi 1990). Corms treated with gibberellins4+7 before planting had a decreasednumber of sprouting buds, resulting in fewer daughter corms, although the apicalone grew to a larger size (Greenberg-Kaslasi 1991). This finding is explained byincreased apical dominance.

Thus effective production of daughter corms results from a combination of shallowplanting and dominance of the apical bud. In any event, in vitro corm production remainsa desirable goal, at least to attain virus-free corms (Dhar and Sapru 1993 (1994), Georgeet al. 1992, Homes et al. 1987, Isa and Ogasawara 1988, Plessner et al. 1990, Milyaevaet al. 1995). Plessner and Ziv updated this subject for the present volume.

Root Development and Function

Three kinds of roots are distinguished in C. sativus (Figure 1 in Negbi 1990):

(1) Absorbing roots that emerge from the base of the planted corm: they arethin and relatively long.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (23)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION 7

(2) Contractile roots, thick and short, that develop singly at the base of thesprouting buds which form daughter corms. They are produced only inshallowly located corms. Though their main function is to deepen the newlyformed corms, they absorb water and nutrients.

(3) Contractile-absorbing roots which are thinner and longer than the contractileones and develop on the parent corm near the sprouting buds bearing thecontractile roots.

The contractile-absorbing roots appear three weeks after the contractile ones(Greenberg-Kaslasi 1991). This strengthens the hypothesis that their formation isinduced not only by depth factors such as light and fluctuating temperatures (Halevy1986, in Gladiolus), but also by the presence of the contractile roots. Whilecontractile roots decrease to half or a third of their length, the thin-contractileroots contract by only 10%. Although the function of the thin-contractile rootsneeds further elucidation, they may serve to anchor the mother corm in positionduring the tilting activity of the contractile roots.

STERILITY AND IMPROVEMENT OF THE SAFFRON CROCUS

Mathew (1977, 1982), Brighton (1977) and Chichiriccò (1984) studied thetaxonomy, morphology and cytology of C. sativus and its allies. C. sativus is asterile triploid (2n=24); it produces no fertilizable gametes6 (Ghaffari 1986) and isself-incompatible (Chichiriccò and Grilli Caiola 1986, 1987). In the rare cases offertilization there is some embryo and endosperm development, processes thatterminate at early stages (Chichiriccò 1987). Studies of micro- and macro-sporogenesis and pollen-tube growth have shown that C. sativus is essentially amale-sterile plant, due mainly to pollen malformation and malfunction (Chichiriccò1989a,b, 1990, Chichiriccò and Grilli Caiola 1986, 1987). Recently, a study ofpollen grains, pollen tube and pistil was carried out in three members of the C.sativus group: C. thomasii, C. cartwrightianus and C. biflorus Miller subsp. biflorus(Grilli Caiola et al. 1993, Grilli Caiola, 1994, 1995; Chichiriccò and Grilli Caiolahave contributed chapters on progress in the field to this volume).

Three fertile diploid (2n=16) Crocus species are considered as putative ancestorsof the sterile saffron crocus: the Aegean C. cartwrightianus, the Cretan C.oreocreticus (Mathew 1982) and the Italian and Dalmatian C. thomasii (Chichiriccò1990). Of these, crosses with the saffron crocus have been attempted only withthe last. Chichiriccò (1989a, 1990) managed to achieve viable hybrids between C.sativus × C. thomasii. The continuation and extension of this study to include theAegean allies of the saffron crocus is of theoretical and applied significance (GrilliCaiola 1995, see Grilli Caiola’s article in this volume.7) Another member of thesaffron crocus group, C. moabiticus (2n=14), has been recently rediscovered,described, brought from Jordan and placed in crocus collections in Europe (Al-Eisawi 1986, Kerndorf 1988). It may also add to future breeding programmes.

Studies in the 1960s and 1970s dealt with the selection of rare saffron Crocusplants in the field, such as plants with more than three stigmas and other such

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (24)

M.NEGBI8

traits. Estilai (1978) screened large fields for similar qualities, but no further reportswere published. In Israel, plants with supernumerary stigmas were marked, butthese traits did not recur the following year. Similar freaks with 4 and 5-fid stigmas,which were observed at a frequency of about one in a million, did not reappear(Dhar et al. 1988).

Another approach, increasing variability for selection by irradiation, has notreceived much attention. Gamma-irradiation (up to 0.5 Kr) of saffron cormsincreased corm production, flower number and stigma weight for three consecutiveyears (Akhund-Zade and Muzaferova 1975). An unpublished study in L’Aquila(U. Laneri, S.Lucretti and F.Tammaro 1983) showed many morphological flowervariants following 12 Gy gamma-irradiation of hundreds of saffron corms.However, no useful mutants were recovered, and moreover, further flowering wasinhibited (Laneri 1990). There is a need to continue this approach.

DRYING AND STORAGE OF SAFFRON AND QUALITYDETERMINATION

Following the separation of the stigmas from the flowers, it is essential to dry them.Incomplete drying results in total loss of the product due to decomposition andmoulding. Dried, uncontaminated stigmas are storable and marketable, but maynot be of the highest quality, as determined by colouring power (crocin concentration),odour (safranal) and taste (picrocrocin) (Basker 1993). Some modern drying methodshave replaced the age-old drying on fine-mesh screens held over burning coals (Anon.Undated, Raines Ward 1988). Controlled storage of the harvested stigmas is used ina number of producing countries (Skrubis 1990, Zanzucchi 1987).

In Krokos, Greece, a thin layer of freshly harvested stigmas is placed on a fine silkscreen and dried in a dark, oven-warmed room for 10 to 12 h, at temperaturesreaching 30–35°C. A red spice of similarly high quality has been obtainedexperimentally in a dehydrating chamber at 48°C for 3 h. There they found thatstorage of the dried spice was best achieved in tightly sealed glass jars or cans, in 10–12% RH. Saffron analysis in Greece carried out according to the French norm8 wasbased on a determination of moisture and volatile-material content, colouring power,pigment identification, and ash, impurity, and volatile-oil contents (Skrubis 1990).

In the L’Aquila region, Italy, the author witnessed drying over hot charcoal twodecades ago. It seems that these and similar skilful and delicate methods are still inuse in Emilia-Romagna, over oak wood amber (Zanzucchi 1987), and in Navelli(Di Francesco 1990, Tammaro this volume). However, analytical methods similarto those used in Greece are employed in Emilia-Romagna (Zanzucchi 1987). Saffrondetermination in Navelli also includes nitrogenous and non-nitrogenous substances,sugars, cellulose and oils (Tammaro 1990:76–79). More detailed spectroscopicdeterminations of the spice’s ingredients were performed by Cichelli (1990) usingchromatographic techniques (GLC and HPLC). A new HPLC method, adaptedfor this purpose, has been recently published (Corti et al. 1996).

In Spain, to my knowledge, the actual drying methods employed have not beenpublished (but it was dried over glowing coals at least until the early 1980s,

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (25)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION 9

Greenberg and Lambert Ortiz 1983:76–78). However, analytical methods used tostudy the auto-oxidation of saffron have been described. Under the summertemperature and humidity of La Mancha (40°C and 75% RH), loss in colouringpower and bitterness follow first- and second-order kinetics, respectively (Alõnsoet al. 1990, see also Iborra et al. 1992 and Alõnso et al. 1996). These authorsraised the possibility of using their techniques to monitor the characteristics andpurity of market saffron.

A recent, detailed study by Basker (1993) describes the direct relationshipbetween the drying temperature of the stigmas and the time needed for effectiveresults. Drying at temperatures ranging from 20° to 92°C for 96 to 1.2 h,respectively, resulted in similar amounts of crocin (colouring power, expressed asExtinction1% w/v on a path of 1 cm at 440 nm), picrocrocin (bitterness factor),safranal (aroma factor) and sensory quality (Basker and Negbi 1985). Basker hasupdated these topics in two contributions to this volume.

USES OF SAFFRON

Apiculture

C. sativus and other crocuses are pollinated by the honeybee (Apis mellijerd),solitary bees and syrphids flies (Ferrazzi 1991, Shmida and Dafni 1989). A. melliferagathers the pollen from these flowers in big orange pellets. Nectar is producedfrom the septa of the ovary, placed at the base of the long and narrow corolla tubenear ground level. Nectar does not always reach the perianth to be sucked up byshort-tongued insects such as honeybees. Various Crocus species represent a goodresource for honeybee colonies during periods of hardship: between winter andspring and in autumn, but are usually unimportant in terms of honey productionin Italy (Ferrazzi 1991).

Traditional Uses

Cooking innovations and the borrowing of traditional recipes are far from beingexhausted (Greenberg and Lambert Ortiz 1983, Szita 1987). Old ideas have beenretried in seasoning vermouths prepared from the sand pear (Pyrus pyrifolia) andin dairy products (Attri et al. 1993, Sen and Rajorhia 1994). Saffron dyes are usedtoday for colouring carpets, hats and traditional women’s costumes in Sardinia(Campanelli 1990).

Histochemistry

Saffron is used in combination with hematoxylin and phloxine (HPS) to improveanimal and human histological staining methods (Du et al. 1991, Garvey 1991,Gherardi et al. 1987, Levine et al. 1988, Martin et al. 1992, Sapienza et al. 1991,Solsberg et al. 1990, van Putten and van Zwieten 1988). Note that wholesaleSpanish saffron, 2% extracted in absolute ethanol at 60°C for two weeks, is eighttimes less expensive than that produced for laboratory dye (Garvey 1991).

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (26)

M.NEGBI10

Experiments in Medicinal Uses of Saffron

The traditional medicinal uses of saffron have been gradually abandoned. In Italy,for example, the “saffron” entry was first omitted from the “PharmacopoeiaUfficiale Italiana” in 1964 (Bergaglio 1990). From time to time, however, we witnesssurges of interest in saffron in normative medical science (Basker and Negbi 1983,Abdullaev 1993).

Folklore relating to the uses of saffron treats its effect on blood clots (Szita1987). Research at the Institute for Oriental Medicine in Hyogo has shown thatsaffron stigmas inhibit blood coagulation, via their effect on platelet-aggregation,and accelerate in vitro fibrinolysis activity of urokinase and plasmin (Nishio et al.1987, 1993). The toxicity of saffron extract, known from ancient times (Baskerand Negbi 1983), has recently been studied in rabbits and dogs (Babaev et al.1990). Possibly related is the effect of saffron’s ethanol extract on learning abilityin mice (Zhang et al. 1994). Saffron chemotherapy has recently been reviewed byNair et al. (1996). Recent progress relating to saffron in biological and medicalresearch is discussed by Abdullaev and Frenkel (this volume).

CONCLUSIONS

The view expressed by Picci (1987), Galigani (1987), Adamo et al. (1987) and DrByron Skrubis (Thessaloniki, pers. commun.), that mechanical flower harvestingof C. sativus is unfeasible, will remain valid until one of several possibledevelopments enables it (Galigani and Garbati Pegna, Grilli Caiola, this volume).A few of these are:

• Advancing the flowering date by enhancing hysteranthous leaf appearance,possibly using precise temperature and water regimes from corm harvesting(Plessner et al 1989).

• More synchronous flowering combined with hysteranthous leaf appearanceis also important.

• Other possibilities are increasing the number and weight of stigmas andproducing a long flowering shoot, either by breeding (Chichiriccò 1990) orplant-growth regulators. These will give higher yields of saffron in flowersharvested more easily with higher above-ground leaves.

New technologies for in vitro production of the spice itself (Barker 1988, Fakhraiand Evans 1990, Himeno and Sano 1987, Himeno et al. 1988, Koyama et al. 1988,Lu et al. 1992, Otsuka et al. 1992, Sano and Himeno, 1987, Sarma et al. 1990,1991,Visvanath et al. 1990, Han and Zhang 1993, Plessner and Ziv this volume) couldlead to in vitro saffron which is identical to, or superior to, its natural, high-qualitycounterpart. Then harvesting would become redundant, but not saffron!

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This study was supported by The Israel Science Foundation (founded by The IsraelAcademy of Science and Humanities). The help of Dr E.Werker, Jerusalem, in the

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (27)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION 11

study of the shoot apex is acknowledged. The literature retrieval carried out in theFaculty of Agriculture Library and the Market Research Unit of the Ministry ofa*griculture, and the useful comments given by D.Basker are gratefullyacknowledged.

REFERENCES

Abdullaev, F.I. (1993) Biological effects of saffron. BioFactors, 4, 83–86.Abdullaev, F.I. and Frenkel, G.D. (1999) Saffron in biological and medical research (this

volume).Abulafia, D. (1982) Crocuses and Crusaders: San Giminiano, Pisa and the Kingdom of

Jerusalem. In B.Z.Kedar, H.E.Mayer and R.C.Smail (eds.), Outremer: Studies in thehistory of the Crusading Kingdom of Jerusalem. Yad Ben-Zvi Institute, Jerusalem, pp.227–233.

Adamo, A., Cozzi, M., Galigani, P.F., Vannucci, D. and Vieri, M. (1987) Fabbisogno dimanodopera nelle operazioni colturali dello zafferano. In A.Bezzi (1987) pp. 457–460.

Ait-Oubahou, A. and El-Otmani, M. (1999) Saffron cultivation in Morocco (this volume).Akhund-Zade, I.M. and Muzaferova, R.Sh. (1975) Study of the effectiveness of gamma

irradiation of the saffron. Radiobiologiya, 15, 319–322.Al-Eisawi, D.M. (1986) Studies on the flora of Jordan, 12. Monocotyledons new to Jordan,

with notes on some interesting species. Kew Bulletin, 41, 349–357.Allan, E.J. and Fowler, M.W. (1985) Biologically active plant secondary metabolites.

Prospective for the future. Chemistry and Industry, 12, 408–410.Alõnso, G.L., Varón, R., Gómez, R., Navaro, F. and Salinas, M.R. (1990) Auto-oxidation

in saffron at 40°C and 75% relative humidity. Journal of Food Science, 55, 595–596.Alõnso, G.L., Salinas, M.R., Esteban-Infantes, F.J. and Sanchez-Fernandez, M.A. (1996)

Determination of safranal from saffron (Crocus sativus L.) by thermal desorption-gaschromatography. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 44, 185–188.

Amigues, S. (1988) Le crocus et le safran sur une fresque de Théra. Revue Archaeologiqm,2, 227–242.

Anon. Undated. The saffron crocus. Saffron Walden Museum Leaflet, no. 13. Saffron WaldenMuseum, Saffron Walden, England.

Anon. (1989) The field in which the gold of saffron grows-special attention and extraproduction means. Adulate (A daily newspaper, Teheran) January 14, p. 5 (Persian).

Anon. United States Department of Agriculture: Foreign Agricultural Service. US spice trade.Circular Series, April 1992, 12–13.

Attri, B.L., Lal, B.B. and Joshi, V.K. (1993) Preparation and evaluation of sand pear vermouth.Journal of Food Science and Technology India, 30, 435–437.

Aucante, P. De Grèce en France: A la recherche du safran perdu. Vivre au Jardin September1989, 101–105.

Azizbekova, N.Sh. and Milyaeva, E.L. (1979) Ontogenesis of saffron crocus (Crocus sativus)and changes in stem apices. Soviet Journal of Developmental Biology, 9, 266–271.

Azizbekova, N.Sh. and Milyaeva, E.L. (1999) Saffron cultivation in Azerbaijan (this volume).Azizbekova, N.Sh., Milyaeva, E.L., Lobova, N.V. and Chailakhyan, M.Kh. (1978) Effects

of gibberellin and kinetin on formation of flower organs in saffron crocus. Soviet PlantPhysiology, 25 (3, part 2), 471–476.

Babaev, R.A., Kasumov, F.Yu., Babaev, Kh.F., Akhmedova, G.Sh. and Khasaeva, E.G. (1990)Study of the pharmacological properties of saffron extract. Izyestiya Akademii NaukAzerbaidzhana Seriya Biologicheskikh Nauk, 0(1) 86–93 (Russian).

Bali, A.S. and Sagwal, S.S. (1987) Saffron—a cash crop of Kashmir. Agricultural Situationin India, 41, 965–968.

Barker, S.A. (1988) Biotechnology from European patent applications. InternationalIndustrial Biotech-nology, 8, 29–34.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (28)

M.NEGBI12

Basker, D. (1993) Saffron, the costliest spice: drying and quality, supply and price. ActaHorticulturae, 334, 86–97.

Basker, D. (1999) Saffron chemistry (this volume).Basker, D. (1999) Saffron technology (this volume).Basker, D. and Negbi, M. (1983) The uses of saffron. Economic Botany, 37, 228–236.Basker, D. and Negbi, M. (1985) Crocetin equivalent of saffron extracts: comparison of

extraction methods. Journal of The Association of Public Analysts, 23, 65–69.Behzad, S., Razavi, M. and Mahajeri, M. (1992a) The effect of various amounts of ammonium

phosphate and urea on saffron production. Acta Horticulturae, 306, 306–339.Behzad, S., Razavi, M. and Mahajeri, M. (1992b) The effect of mineral nutrients (N.P.K.)

on saffron production. Acta Horticulturae, 306, 426–430.Bergaglio, G.C. (1990) Note storiche medico-farmaceutiche sullo zafferano. In F. Tammaro

and L. Marra (1990) pp. 223–232.Bezzi, A., ed. (1987) Atti, Convegno sulla coltivazione delle piante officinali [Convention

on the cultivation of medicinal plants], Proceedings of a conference held in Trento,Italy, 9–10 October 1986. Istituto Sperimentale per l’Assestamento Forestale e perl’Alpicoltura, Villazzano (Trento).

Brighton, C.A. (1977) Cytology of Crocus sativus L. and its allies (Iridaceae). PlantSystematics and Evolution, 128, 137–157.

Campanelli, R. (1990) Storia minima, usi e curiosita dello zafferano in Sardegna. In F.Tammaro and L. Marra (1990) pp. 297–300 (Italian, English abstract)

Chen, L. and Sze, T. (1977) Introduction of Crocus sativus into Peking area, China.Observations of its biological characteristics. Acta Botanica Sinica, 19, 313–314.

Chichiriccò, G. (1984) Karyotype and meiotic behaviour of the triploid Crocus sativus L.Caryologia, 37, 233–239.

Chichiriccò, G. (1987) Megasporogenesis and development of embryo sac in Crocus sativusL. Caryologia, 40, 59–69.

Chichiriccò, G. (1989a) Fertilization of Crocus sativus ovules and development of seedsafter stigmatic pollination with C. thomasii (Iridaceae). Giornale Botanico Italiano,123, 31–37.

Chichiriccò, G. (1989b) Microsporogenesis and pollen development in Crocus sativus L.Caryologia, 42, 249–257.

Chichiriccò, G. (1990) Sterility and improvement of saffron crocus. In F.Tammaro andL.Marra (1990) pp. 99–107.

Chichiriccò, G. and Grilli Caiola, M. (1986) Crocus sativus pollen germination and pollentube growth in vitro and after intraspecific and interspecific pollination. Canadianjournal of Botany, 64, 2774–2777.

Chichiriccò, G. and Grilli Caiola, M. (1987) In vitro development of parthenocarpic fruitsof Crocus sativus L. Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture, 11, 75–78.

Chitt, M.A., Gerard, M. and Marechal, J. (1985) La culture des plantes medicinales,aromatiques et condimentaires dans le sud du Maroc: compte-rendue d’un voyagedans les zones d’Agadir, Marrakech, Quarzazate et Tata. Tropicultum, 3, 29–32.

Chrungoo, N.K. and Farooq, S. (1984) Influence of gibberellic acid and naphtaleneaceticacid on yield and on growth in saffron crocus (C sativus). Indian Journal of PlantPhysiology, 27, 201–205.

Cichelli, A. (1990) Recenti acquisizioni analitiche nella valutazione dello zafferano. InF.Tammaro and L. Marra (1990) pp. 151–162 (Italian, English abstract.).

Coppock, H.C. (1984) The saffron crocus in Cherry Hinton and other areas ofCambridgeshire. D.O.Bond, Cambridge.

Corti, R, Mazzeri, E., Ferri, S., Ftanchi, G.G. and Dreassi, E. (1996) High performance thinlayer chromatographic quantitative analysis of picrocrocin and crocetin, of saffron(Crocus sativus L.—Iridaceae): a new method. Phytochemical Analysis, 7, 201–203.

Dafni A., Shmida, A. and Avishai, M. (1981) Leafless autumnal-flowering geophytes in theMediterranean region-phytogeographical, ecological and evolutionary aspects. PlantSystematics and Evolution, 137, 181–193.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (29)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION 13

De Mastro, G. and Ruta, C. (1993) Relations between corm size and saffron (Crocus sativusL.) flowering. Acta Horticulturae, 344, 512–517.

Dhar, A.K. and Sapru, R. (1993 and 1994) Studies on saffron in Kashmir III. In vitroproduction of corm and shoot like structures. Indian Journal of Genetics and PlantBreeding, 53, 193–196.

Dhar, A.K., Sapru, R. and Rekha, K. (1988) Studies on saffron in Kashmir I. Variation innatural population and its cytological behaviour. Crop Improvement, 15, 48–52.

Di Crecchio, R. (1960) Lo zafferano. L’Italia Agricola, 97, 629–649.Di Francesco, L. (1990) Lo zafferano. Edizioni L’lnformatore Agrario, Verona.Du, T., Sapienza, S., Eidelman, D.H., Wang, N.S. and Martin, J.G. (1991) Morphometry of

the airways during the late responses to antigen challenge in the rat. American Reviewof Respiratory Disease, 143, 132–137.

Estilai, A. (1978) Variability in saffron (Crocus sativus L.). Experientia, 34, 527.Fakhrai, F. and Evans, P.K. (1990) Morphogenic potential of cultured floral explants of Crocus

sativus L. for the in vitro production of saffron. journal of Experimental Botany, 41, 47–52.Ferrazzi, P. (1991) Croco. L’apicoltore Moderno, 82, 75–80.Fois Sussarello, M.L. (1990) Lo zafferano in Sardegna. In F.Tammaro and L.Marra (1990)

pp. 166–170 (Italian, English abstract).Fritsch, É. (1939) Ethologie du Crocus (safran). Bulletin de la Societe Royale de Botanique

de Belgique, 71, 104–111.Fritsch, É. (1942) Ethologie du Crocus (safran) (suite). Bulletin de la Societe de Botanique

de Belgique, 74, 154–163.Galigani, P.F. (1987) La meccanizzazione delle colturie di salvia, lavanda, zafferano e

genziana. In A.Bezzi (1987) pp. 221–235 (Italian, English summary).Galigani, P.F. and Garbati Pegna, F. (in press) Mechanized saffron cultivation, including

harvesting (this volume).Garvey, W. (1991) Modification of the Mayer hematoxylin stain. Journal of Histotechnology,

14, 163–165.George, P.S., Visvanath, S., Ravishankar, G.A. and Venkataraman, L.V. (1992) Tissue culture

of saffron (Crocus sativus L.): somatic embryogenesis and shoot regeneration. FoodBiotechnology (New York) 6, 217–223.

Ghaffari, S.M. (1986) Cytogenetic studies of cultivated Crocus sativus (Iridaceae). PlantSystematics and Evolution, 153, 199–204.

Gherardi, G,, Del Tacca, M., Paparelli, A., Bernardimi, C. and Polloni, A. (1987) Stainingmethods for morphometric studies of parietal and gastrin cells in the rat stomach.International Journal of Tissue Reactions, 9, 499–508.

Goliaris, A. (in press) Saffron cultivation in Greece (this volume).Greenberg, S. and Lambert Ortiz, E. (1983) The spice of life. Michael Joseph/Rainbird,

London.Greenberg-Kaslasi, D. (1991) Vegetative and reproductive development in the saffron crocus

(Crocus sativus L.). M.Sc. Thesis, The Faculty of Agriculture, The Hebrew Universityof Jerusalem, Rehovot (Hebrew, English abstract).

Grilli Caiola, M. (1994) Pollen structure and germination of Crocus thomasii Ten. (Iridaceae).Giornale Botanico Italiano, 128, 869–877.

Grilli Caiola, M. (1995) A study on pollen grains of Crocus cartwrightianus (Iridaceae).Plant Systematics and Evolution, 198, 155–166.

Grilli Caiola, M. (in press) Reproduction biology of saffron and its allies (this volume),Grilli Caiola, M., Banas, M. and Canini, A. (1993) Ultrastructure and germination percentage

of Crocus biflorus Miller subsp. biflorus (Iridaceae) pollen. Botanica Acta, 106, 488–495.Halevy, A.H. (1986) The induction of contractile roots in Gladiolus grandiflorous. Planta,

167, 94–100.Halevy, A.H. (1990) Recent advances in control of flowering and growth habit of geophytes.

Acta Horticulturae, 266, 35–42.Han, L.L. and Zhang, X.Y. (1993) Morphogenesis of style-stigma-like structures from the

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (30)

M.NEGBI14

floral explants of Crocus sativus and identification of the pigments. Acta BotanicaSinica, 35 (supplement), 157–160 (Chinese).

Himeno, H. and Sano, K.T.I (1987) Synthesis of crocin, picrocrocin and safranal by saffronstigma-like structures proliferated in vitro. Agricultural and Biological Chemistry, 51,2395–2400.

Himeno, H., Matsushima, H. and Sano, K. (1988) Scanning electron microscopic study onthe in vitro organogenesis of saffron stigma-and style-like structures. Plant Science, 58,93–101.

Homes, J., Legros, M. and Jaziri, M. (1987) In vitro multiplication of Crocus sativus L.ActaHorticulturae, 212 (II), 675–676.

Iborra, J.L., Castellar, M.R., Cánovas, M. and Manjón, A. (1992) TLC preparativepurification of picrocrocin, HTCC and crocin from saffron. Journal of Food Science,57, 714–716 and 731.

Ingram, J.S. (1969) Saffron (Crocus sativus L). Tropical Sciences, 11, 1771–1784.Isa, T. and Ogasawara, T. (1988) Efficient regeneration from the callus of saffron (Crocus

sativus). Japanese Journal of Breeding., 38, 371–374.Jossen, E. and Stork, A.L. (1983) Oublié, retrouvé: le safran en Valais. Revue Horticole

Suisse, 56,267–274.Kamikura, M. and Nakazato, K. (1984) Comparison of natural yellow colors extracted

from saffron (Crocus sativus Linne) and gardenia fruit (Gardenia jasminoides Ellis).Eisei Shikenjo Hokoku [Bulletin of the National Institute of Hygienic Sciences] 103,157–160 (Japanese, English summary).

Kawatani, T., Fujita, S., Kuboki, N. and Saito, K. (1961) Comparison between room andgarden cultures of saffron (Crocus sativus L.). Eisei Shikenjo Hokoku [Bulletin of theNational Institute of Hygienic Sciences] 79, 137–145 (Japanese, English summary).

Kerndorf, H. (1988) Observations on crocus (Iridaceae) in Jordan with special reference toCrocus moabiticus. Herberita, 44, 33–53.

Koul, K.K. and Farooq, S. (1984) Growth and differentiation in the shoot apical meristem ofsaffron plant (Crocus sativus L.). Journal of the Indian Botanical Society, 63, 153–169.

Koyama, A., Ohmori, Y., Fujioka, Y., Miyagawa, N., Yamasaki, H. and Kohda, H. (1988)Formation of stigma-like structures and pigment in cultured tissues of Crocus sativus.Planta Medica, 54, 375–376.

Laneri, U. (1990) Biotechnological applications to saffron (Crocus sativus L.): in vitro cultureand mutagenesis. In F.Tammaro and L.Marra (eds.), Lo Zafferano: Proceedings of theInternational Confer-ence on Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) L’Aquila(Italy) 27–29 October1989, Università Degli Studi L’Aquila e Accademia Italiana della Cucina, L’Aquila, pp.109–124.

Levine, D.S., Surawicz, C.M., Ajer, T.N., Dean, P.J. and Rubin, C.E. (1988) Diffuse excessmucosal collagen in rectal biopsies facilitates differential diagnosis of solitary rectalulcer syndrome from inflammatory bowel diseases. Digestive Diseases and Sciences,33, 1345–1352.

Löpez Camacho, J.A. and Fucikovsky, Z.L. (1985) Soft rot of the stem of the saffron crocusin the area of Chapingo, Mexico. Revista Mexicana de Fitopatologia, 3, 59 (Spanish).

Lu, X.G., Din, F.M. and Hong, Z.Y. (1988) Preliminary report on introduction of Crocussativus L. Journal of Zhejiang Forestry Science and Technology, 8, 14–18 (Chinese,English summary).

Lu, W.L., Tong, X.R., Zhang, Q. and Gao, W.W. (1992) Study on in vitro regeneration ofstylestigma like structure in Crocus sativus L. Acta Botanica Sinica, 34, 251–256 (Chinese).

Madan, C.L., Kapur and Gupta, B.M.U.S. (1966) Saffron. Economic Botary, 20, 377–385.Marinatos, S. (1972) Excavations at Thera V (1971 season). Greek Atchaeological Society,

Athens.Martin, J.G., Opazo-Saez, A., Du, T., Tepper, R. and Eidelman, D.H. (1992) In vivo airway

reactivity. predictive value of morphological estimates of airway smooth muscle,Canadian Journal of Phjsi-ological Pharmacology, 70, 597–601.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (31)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION 15

Marzi, V. (1990) Piante aromatiche e medicinali, specie di interesse agrario e possibilità delsettore. Agricoltum delle Venezie, 44, 321–331.

Mathew, B. (1977) Crocus sativus and its allies (Iridaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution,128, 89–103.

Mathew, B. (1982) The crocuses: a revision of the genus Crocus (Iridaceae). B.T.Batsford,London.

Mathew, B. (1984) Crocus L. In P.H.Davis (ed.), Flora of Turkey and the east Aegeanislands, Vol 8 pp. 413–438, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.

Milyaeva, E.L. and Azizbekova, N.Sh. (1978) Cytophysiological changes in the course ofdevelopment of stem apices of saffron crocus. Soviet Plant Physiology, 25(2, part 1),227–233.

Milyaeva, E.L., Azizbekova, N.Sh., Komarova, E.H. and Akhundova, D.D. (1995) In vitrodevelopment of regenerating corms in Crocus sativus. Fiziologia Rastenii, 42, 127–134 (Russian).

Mir, G.M. (1992) Saffron agronomy in Kashmir: a study in habitat, economy and society.Gulshan Publishers, Srinagar.

Nair, S.C., Kurumboor, S.K. and Hasegawa, J.H. (1996) Saffron chemoprevention in biologyand medicine. A review. Cancer Biotherapy, 10, 257–264.

Nair, S.C., Salomi, M.J., Varghese, C.D., Panikkar, B. and Panikkar, K.R. (1992) Effect ofsaffron on thymocyte proliferation, intracellular glutathione levels and its antitumoractivity. Biofactors, 4, 51–54.

Nauriyal, J.P., Gupta, R. and George, C.K. (1977) Saffron in India. Arecanut and SpiceBulletin, 8, 59–72.

Negbi, M. (1989) Theophrastus on geophytes. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society,100, 15–43.

Negbi, M. (1990) Physiological research on the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus). In F.Tammaro and L. Marra (1990) pp. 183–207.

Negbi, M., Dagan, B., Dror, A. and Basker, D. (1989) Growth, flowering, vegetativereproduction and dormancy in the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus L.). Israel Journal ofBotany, 38, 95–113.

Negbi, M. and Negbi, O. (Not dated) The painted plaster floor of Tel Kabri palace: reflectionson saffron domestication in the Aegean Bronze Age. Accepted for publication.

Nishio, T., Ogata, K., Okugawa, H., Matsumoto, K., Moriyasu, M. and Kato, A. (1993)Effect of crocus (Crocus sativus LINNE, Iridaceae) extract on fibrinolytic enzymeactivities (plasmin and urokinase) measured by synthetic substrate method. ShoyakugakuZasshi, 47, 321–325 (Japanese).

Nishio, T., Okugawa, H., Kato, A., Hashimoto, Y, Matsumoto, K. and Fujioka, A. (1987)Effect of crocus (Crocus sativus Linne, Iridaceae) on blood coagulation and fibrinolysis.Shoyakugaku Zasshi, 41, 271–276 (Japanese, English abstract).

Oberdieck, R. (1991) Ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis und Analytik von Safran (Crocus sativusL.). Deutsche Lebensmittll-Rundschau, 87, 246–252 (German, English summary).

Otsuka, M., Saimoto, H., Murata, Y. and Kawashima, M. (1992) Method for producingsaffron stigma- like tissue and method for producing useful components from saffronstigma-like tissue. United States Patent. 1992, US 5085995, 8 pp., A 28.08.89-US-399037, P. 04.02.92.

Picci, V. (1987) Sintesi sulle esperienze di coltivazione di Crocus sativus L. in Italia. InA.Bezzi (1987) pp. 119–157 (Italian, English snmmary).

Plessner, O., Negbi, M. Ziv, M. and Basker, D. (1989) Effects of temperature on the floweringof the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus L.): induction of hysteranthy. Israel Journal ofBotany, 38, 1–7.

Plessner, O., Ziv, M., and Negbi, M. (1990) In vitro corm production in the saffron crocus(Crocus sativus L.). Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture, 20, 89–94.

Raines Ward, D. (1988) Flowers are a mine for a spice more precious than gold. Smithsonian,19, 104–110.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (32)

M.NEGBI16

Rees, A.R. (1988) Saffron-an expensive plant product. Plantsman, 9, 210–217.Sano, K. and Himeno, H. (1987). In vitro proliferation of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) stigma.

Plant cell, Tissue and Organ Culture, 11, 159–166.Sapienza, S., Du, T., Eiedlman, D.H., Wang, N.S. and Martin, J.G. (1991) Structural changes

in the airways of sensitized brown Norway rats after antigen challenge. AmericanReview of Respiratory Diseases, 144, 423–427.

Sarma, K.S., Maesato, K., Hara, T. and Sonoda, Y. (1990) In vitro production of stigma-like structures from stigma explants of Crocus sativus L. Journal of ExperimentalBotany, 41, 745–748.

Sarma, K.S., Sharada, K., Maesato, K., Hara, T. and Sonoda, Y. (1991) Chemical andsensory analysis of saffron produced through tissue cultures of Crocus sativus. PlantCell Tissue and Organ Culture, 26, 11–16.

Sen, D.C. and Rajorhia, G.S. (1994) Role of saffron in improving storage quality of sandesh.Indian Journal of Dairy Science, 47, 198–202.

Shmida, A. and Dafni, A. (1989) Blooming strategies, flower size and advertising in the“Lilygroup” geophytes in Israel. Herbertia, 45, 111–123.

Siddique, M.A.A., Chrungoo, N.K., Koul, K.K., Farooq, S. and Dahar, U. (1989) Saffron-a valuable crop. Science Spectrum, June 1989, 279–281.

Skrubis, B. (1990) The cultivation in Greece of Crocus sativus L. In F.Tammaro and L.Marra(1990) pp. 171–182.

Solsberg, M.D., Lemaire, C, Resch, L. and Potts, D.G. (1990) High-resolution MR imagingof the cadaveric human spinal cord: normal anatomy. American Journal ofNeuroloradiology, 11, 3–7.

Szita, E. (1986) The saffron harvest is in and the US got it. The New York Times 1986December 10, pp. Cl and C6.

Szita, E. (1987) Wild about saffron: a contemporary guide to an ancient spice. SaffronRose, Daly City, CA.

Tajuddin, Saproo, M.L., Yaseen, M. and Husain, A. (1993) Productivity of rose (Rosadamascena Mill) with intercrops under temperate conditions. Journal of Essential OilResearch, 5, 191–198.

Tammaro, F. (1990) Crocus sativus L. cv. Piano di Navelli—L’Aquila (zafferano dell’Aquila):ambiente, coltivazione, caratteristiche morfometriche, principi attivi, usi. In F.Tammaroand L.Marra (1990) pp. 47–98 (Italian, English abstract).

Tammaro, F. and Di Francesco, L. (1978) Lo zafferano dell’ Aquila. Istituto di Tecnica ePropaganda Agraria, Roma.

Tammaro, F. and Marra, L. (eds.) (1990) Lo Zafferano: Proceedings of the InternationalConference on Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) L’Aquila (Italy) 27–29 October 1989.Università Degli Studi L’Aquila e Accademia Italiana della Cucina, L’Aquila.

Tuveri, B. (1990) Lo coltivazione dello zafferano in Sardegna. In F.Tammaro and L.Marra(1990) pp. 163–165 (Italian, English abstract).

van Putten, L.J. and van Zwieten, M.J. (1988) Studies on prolactin secreting cells in agingrats of different strains. II. Selected morphological and immunocytochemical featuresof pituitary tumors correlated with serum prolactin levels. Mechanisms of Ageing andDevelopment., 42, 115–127.

Visvanath, S., Ravishankar, G.A. and Venkataraman, L.V. (1990) Induction of crocin,crocetin, picrocrocin, and safranal synthesis in callus cultures of saffron—Crocus sativusL. Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry, 12, 336–340.

Wallach, B. (1989) Water for Morocco’s rivers of palms. Garden 1989 May/June, 12–17.Warburg, E.F. (1957) Crocuses. Endeavour, 16, 209–216.Wilkins, H.F. (1985) Crocus vernus, Crocus sativus, in A.H.Halevy (ed.), CRC Handbook

of flowering, vol. II pp. 350–355, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.Yang, J.X. and S.X.Miao. (1985) Observation on flowering habits of saffron (Crocus sativus

L.). Acta Agriculturae Universitatis Jilinensis (China) 7, 25–26 (Chinese).Xiue, X.H. et al. (1986) Effect of increasing yield of gibberellin treated Crocus sativus.

Bulletin of Chinese Materia Medica 11, 650–652 (Chinese). (Not seen by the author).

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (33)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION 17

Zanzucchi, C. (1987) La ricerca condotta dal consorzio comunale Parmaensi sullo zafferano(Crocus sativus L,.). In A.Bezzi (1987) pp. 347–395, (Italian, English summary).

Zhang, Y, Shoyma, Y, Sugiura, H. and Sito, H. (1994) Effects of Crocus sativus L. onethanol-induced impairment of passive avoidance in mice. Biological and PharmaceuticalBulletin, 17, 217–221.

Ziv, M. and Plessner, O. (1999) Developments in corm and spice production in vitro (thisvolume).

END NOTES

1. The data presented in Table 1.2 of Goliaris’ chapter (this volume) covers some of thatof Skrubis. However, though it deals with the same region in Greece, they differ greatly.

2. Figures differing from those in Table 1.3 appear elsewhere (Bali and Sagwal 1987, for1972–73, and Dhar, Sapru and Rekha 1988, for 1982). The latter cite C.K. Atal, whogives a total area of about 5,000 ha and yields higher than 5 lb per acre (=5.7 kg perha). Mir (1992) presents data on cultivation area and production, in Kashmir, from1968 until 1983 (when 12,600 ha yielded 145,855 kg, an average of 11.6 kg per ha,more than double the data of Siddique et al. 1989, Table 1.3). Note that in Kashmir,saffron is grown partly as an under-crop in rose plantations (Tajuddin et al. 1993).

3. On saffron’s research and cultivation in Sardinia see the proceedings of an InternationalSeminar on Aromatic and Medicinal Plants held in Cagliary on 1994 and published inRevista Italiana EPPOS (1996), 19. There are five articles concerning saffron cultivationin Sardinia (English abstracts are in Review of Aromatic and Medicinal Plants (1997),7 No. 2).

4. In Nerine sarniensis, the hysteranthous habit is also controllable (Halevy 1990).5. Azizbekova et al. (1978), Chrungoo and Farooq (1984) and Xiue et al. (1986) reported

flowering promotion with exogenous growth regulators. We in Israel failed to repeatthese results (Greenberg-Kaslasi 1991, Negbi et al. 1989).

6. Having 8 or 16 chromosomes.7. There Grilli Caiola writes: “Experiments carried out in the field led to the finding that

although self-outcross- and unpollinated pistils of saffron did not produce fruits andseeds, a capsule was obtained from a saffron plant grown near C. cartwrightianusplants (unpublished data).”

8. AFNOR—I’Association francaise de normalisation.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (34)

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (35)

19

2. BOTANY, TAXONOMY AND CYTOLOGY OFC. SATIVUS L. AND ITS ALLIES

BRIAN MATHEW

90 Foley Road, Claygate, KT10 ONB, UK

ABSTRACT Saffron is produced from the dried styles of Crocus sativus L.(Iridaceae) which is unknown as a wild plant, representing a sterile triploid derivedfrom the naturally occurring diploid C. cartwrightianus Herbert. These belong tosubgenus Crocus series Crocus which constitutes 9 species: C. cartwrightianusand its derivative Crocus sativus, C. moabiticus, C. oreocreticus, C. pallasii, C.thomasii, C. hadriaticus., C. asumaniae and C. mathewii. The taxonomy of thesespecies and their infraspecific taxa is presented, together with their distribution,ecology and phenology; full descriptions and chromosome counts are providedand there is a key to their identification.

The genus Crocus, a member of the large family Iridaceae, comprises some 85species having an Old World distribution, primarily in Mediterranean Europe andwestern Asia. The limits of the entire genus lie within the range longitude 10°W to80°E, latitude 30°N to 50°N. Phytogeographically, the majority of species occurwithin the Mediterranean floristic region, extending eastwards into the Irano-Turanian region; both of these areas are characterized by cool to cold winters withautumn-winterspring precipitation and warm summers with very little rainfall;the latter region experiences much colder winters and generally less rainfall. Thegenus Crocus is well adapted to such conditions, the plants being in active growthfrom autumn to late spring and surviving the summer drought below ground bymeans of a compact corm. Many species commence their above-ground growth atthe onset of autumn rains and flower almost immediately; some of these producetheir leaves and flowers concurrently, or nearly so, while others bloom withoutleaves and delay their leaf production until the onset of warmer weather, usuallyin spring. These physiological characteristics, together with cytological informationand morphological features of the corm tunics, bracts, bracteols, leaves, flowersand seed, have been used to divide the genus into a hierarchy of subgenera, sectionsand series (Mathew 1982), and to define the species within those infragenericgroupings. This classification is followed here and is repeated below.

CLASSIFICATION [THE POSITION OF THE “SAFFRON GROUP”IS SHOWN IN BOLD]

1. Subgenus Crocus, Type species: C. sativus L.

A. Section Crocus. Type species: C. sativus L.(a) Series Verni Mathew. Type species C. vernus Hill.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (36)

B.MATHEW20

(b) Series Scardici Mathew. Type species C. scardicus Kos.(c) Series Versicolores Mathew. Type species C. versicolor Ker.-Gawl.(d) Series Longiflori Mathew. Type species C. longiflorus Raf.(e) Series Kotschyani Mathew. Type species C. kotschyanus Koch(f) Series Crocus. Type species: C. sativus L.

B. Section Nudiscapus Mathew. Type species C. reticulatus Stev. ex Adams

(g) Series Reticulati Mathew. Type species C. reticulatus Stev. ex Adams(h) Series Biflori Mathew. Type species C. biflorus Mill.(i) Series Orientales Mathew. Type species C. korolkowii Regel ex Maw(j) Series Flavi Mathew. Type species C. flavus Weston(k) Series Aleppid Mathew. Type species C. aleppicus Baker(1) Series Carpetani Mathew. Type species C. carpetanus Boiss. & Reut.(m) Series Intertexti (Maw) Mathew. Type species C. fleischeri Gay(n) Series Speciosi Mathew. Type species C. speciosus M. Bieb.(o) Series Laevigati Mathew. Type species C. laevigatus Bory & Chaub.

2.Subgenus Crociris (Schur) Mathew. Mathew. Type species C. banaticus Gay

DEFINITION OF SERIES CROCUS

Anthers with extrorse dehiscence [subgenus Crocus]; scape subtended by amembranous prophyll (enclosed and hidden within the sheathing leaves orcataphylls) [section Crocus]; corm tunics finely fibrous, usually reticulate; flowersautumnal; leaves rather numerous, usually 5–30, appearing with the flowers orshortly after; bracts flaccid, usually not closely sheathing the perianth-tube,membranous, white or ± transparent with no markings; anthers yellow; stylebranches 3, usually red and often expanded at the apex, entire or at mostfimbriate; seed coats covered with a dense mat of papillae. 2n=12, 14, 16, 26[series Crocus].

SPECIES COMPRISING SERIES CROCUS

1. C. cartwightianus Herbert2. C. sativus Linn.3. C. moabiticus Bornm. & Dinsm.4. C. oreocreticus B.L.Burtt5. C. pallasii Gold.6. C. thomasii Ten.7. C. hadriaticus Herbert8. C. asumaniae B.Mathew & T.Baytop9. C. mathewii Kerndorff & Pasche

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (37)

BOTANY, TAXONOMY AND CYTOLOGY 21

IDENTIFICATION KEY TO SPECIES OF CROCUS, SERIES CROCUS

1. Style branches more than ½ as long (actual measurements) as perianth segments 2Style branches up to ½ as long (actual measurements) as perianth segments 6

2. Perianth segments 1.4–3.3 cm long; style branches (0.5–) 1–2.7 cm long 3Perianth segments 3.5–5 cm long; style branches 2.5–3.2 cm long. Triploid,3n=24. Cultivated or a relic of cultivation 2. C. sativus

3. Throat glabrous; style divided above or below base of anthers 4Throat pubescent at point of insertion of filaments; style divided well below baseof anthers, in the throat of the flower 5

4. Flowers white, rarely faintly lilac; style divided well above base of anthers.2n=26. S.Turkey 8. C. asumaniaeFlowers mid—lilac to purple (albinos very rare), often with a silver or buff exterior;style divided below base of anthers. 2n=16. Crete 4. C. oreocreticus

5. Leaves (6–)14–24(–30), grey-green; corm with fibrous neck usually 5–8.5 cm long.2n=14. Jordan 3. C. moabiticusLeaves (4–) 7–12, green; corm with a fibrous neck usually 2–4 cm long.2n=16. Greece 1. C. cartwrightianus

6. Flowers white, often stained violet-blue or brown base of segments, inside or out,but occasionally white throughout, rarely tinged pale lilac 7Flowers lilac to reddish-purple throughout (albinos very rare) 8

7. Corms tunic parallel-fibrous in lower part, weakly reticulate at apex; style branches6–10 mm long; centre (throat) of flower not yellow, often with a conspicuousviolet-blue zone on the inside. 2n=l6. S.Turkey 9.C. mathewiCorm tunic reticulate-fibrous ± throughout, style branches 10–19 (–20) mm long; throatof flower usually yellow, occasionally white; if dark-stained, usually confined to theexterior of the flower. 2n=16. Greece 7. C. hadriaticus

8. Throat, and often the filaments, pale yellow. 2n=16. Italy, Dalmatia 6. C. thomasiiThroat and filaments white or lilac. Balkans to Iran. 2n=12, 14, 16 5. C. pallasii

1. C. cartwrightianus Herbert in Bot. Reg. 29: Misc.: 82 (1843). Type: Greece,Cyclades, ‘ex insula Teno’, Cartwright (K).

Synonyms:C. sativus Sibth. & Smith, Prod. Fl. Graeca 1:23 (1806), non Linn.C. graecus Chapp. in Bull. Soc. Bot. France 20:192 (1873).C. sativus Linn. var. cartwrightianus (Herb.) Maw in Gard. Chron. 16:430 (1881).

Corms 10–15 (–20) mm in diameter, depressed-globose, rather flattened at thebase; tunics fibrous, the fibres very slender and finely reticulated, extended at theapex of the corm into a neck (2–)2.5–3(–4.5) cm long. Cataphylls 3–5, white,membranous. Leaves (4–) 7–12, normally synanthous and equalling the flower atanthesis, spreading, green, 1.5–2.5 mm wide, glabrous or ciliate. Flowers autumnal,fragrant, 1–5, pale to deep lilac-purple or white, strongly veined darker, sometimesstained darker at the base of the segments and on the tube, sometimes pure whitewith no veining (albinos are frequent in this species); throat white or lilac, pubescent.Prophyll present. Bract and bracteole present, very unequal, white, membranous

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (38)

B.MATHEW22

with long-tapering, rather flaccid tips. Perianth tube 3–5(–7) cm long; segmentssubequal, 1.4–3.2 cm long, 0.7–1.2 cm wide, oblanceolate or obovate, obtuse.Filaments 3–7 mm long, white or purplish, glabrous or slightly papillose at the base;anthers 10–15 mm long, yellow. Style divided into 3 red clavate branches, eachbranch (7–) 10–27 mm long, equalling or exceeding the anthers and at least half thelength of the perianth segments, arising at a point well below the base of the anthersand usually in the throat of the flower. Capsule ellipsoid, 1.5–2.5 cm long, 0.6–0.7cm wide, raised on a pedicel to 4 cm long (above ground level) at maturity; seedsreddish-brown, irregularly subglobose, 3–4 mm diameter, the raphe showing as anirregular ridge running the length of the seed and ending in a small, pointed caruncleless than 1 mm long; testa covered with a dense mat of long papillae. 2n=16.Phenology: Flowering October–December.Habitat: Open rocky hillsides, sometimes in short turf or in scrub or sparse pinewoods on schist, shale, granite or limestone formations, sea level to 1000 metres.Distribution: Greece: Attica, Cyclades (recorded from Andros, Giaros, Ios, Kythnos,Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Serifos, Skiros, Syros, Tenos1), Crete.

2. C. sativus Linn., Species Plantarum: 36 (1753). Type: Herb. Clifford 18, Crocus(BM).

Synonyms:C. sativus var. officinalis Linn., Sp. Pl., ed. 2, 1:50 (1762).C. officinalis var. sativus Huds., Fl. Anglica, ed. 2, 1:13 (1778).C. autumnalis Smith, Engl Bot. 5: t. 343 (1796).C. sativus var. cashmirianus Royle, Illustr. Bot. Himal. 372, t. 90, Fig. 1 (1836).C. orsinii Parl, Fl. Ital. 3:238 (1858).C. sativus var. C. orsinii (Parl.) Maw in Gard. Chron. 16:430 (1881).

Corms to c. 5 cm in diameter, depressed-globose, flattened at the base; tunicsfibrous, the fibres very slender and finely reticulated, extended at the apex of thecorm into a neck up to 5 cm long. Cataphylls 3–5, white, membranous. Leaves 5–11, normally synanthous, erect, green, 1.5–2.5 mm wide, glabrous or ciliate. Flowersautumnal, fragrant, 1–4, deep lilac-purple with darker veins and a darker violetstain in the throat; throat white or lilac, pubescent. Prophyll present. Bract andbracteole present, very unequal, white, membranous with long-tapering, ratherflaccid tips. Perianth tube 4–5(–8) cm long; segments subequal, 3.5–5 cm long, 1–2 cm wide, oblanceolate or obovate, obtuse. Filaments 7–11 mm long, purplish,glabrous; anthers 15–20 mm long, yellow. Style divided into 3 deep red clavatebranches, each branch 25–32 mm long, much exceeding the anthers and at leasthalf the length of the perianth segments, arising at a point well below the base ofthe anthers in the throat of the flower. Capsules and seeds rarely produced (atriploid of low fertility). 3n=24

1 According to Prof. C.Doumas (Athens) and Dr A.Sarpaki (Chania, Crete) C. cartwightianus grows ona volcanic ash near Akrotiri, Santorini, and is being harvested for local consumption by the villagers(editor’s note).

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (39)

BOTANY, TAXONOMY AND CYTOLOGY 23

Phenology: Flowering October–November.Distribution: Known only as a cultivated plant, probably of very ancient origin.

Notes: There is a little doubt that this ‘species’ is derived from, and probably aclonal selection of, C. cartwrightianus. In this case, under the International Codeof Nomenclature, the name of the latter should change to the earlier-published C.sattvus. However, for practical purposes it makes good sense to consider the widelycultivated clonal selection as a ‘neo-species’ and retain the familiar and much-used name C. sativus for this plant, which is commercially cultivated as the sourceof Saffron. This treatment would not be creating a precedent; similar nomenclaturehas been adopted for other major crop plants which now differ markedly fromtheir wild ancestors, for example Garlic (Allium sativum, Onion (Allium cepa)and several cereals.

3. C. moabiticus Bornmüller & Dinsmore ex Bornmüller in Feddes Repert. 10:383(1912). Type: Jordan. Moab, near Zizeh, 720 metres, 18 November 1910, Meyers& Dinsmore M. 1537 (B).

Corms 20–35 mm diameter, subglobose, flattened at the base; tunics finely fibrose,the fibres are parallel at the base and weakly reticulate at the apex, extended intoa distinct neck (4–)5.5–8.5(–9.5) cm long. Cataphylls 3, white, membranous. Leaves(6–)14–24(–30), usually present but short at flowering time, grey-green, 1–1.5mm wide, sparsely papillose on the margin of the keel. Flowers 1–6, autumnal,fragrant, veined purple to varying degrees on all six segments on a white groundcolour, sometimes so heavily as to appear purple, sometimes stained darker at thebase of the segments and on the tube; throat white or purple, pubescent. Prophyllpresent. Bract and bracteole present, unequal, the bracteole narrower and slightlyshorter than the bract, white, membranous with long-tapering, rather flaccid tips.Perianth tube 2–5 cm long, white or purple; segments subequal, 1.5–3.2 cm long,0.3–1.2 cm wide, narrowly elliptic to oblanceolate or obovate, acute to obtuse.Filaments 2.5 mm long, white ageing to purple, glabrous; anthers 10–15 mm long,yellow. Style divided into 3 deep red clavate branches, branch 15–20 mm long,equalling to much exceeding the anthers and at least half the length of the perianthsegments, arising at a point well below the base of the anthers in the throat of theflower. Capsule ellipsoid, 1.5–2.5 cm long, 0.5–0.7 cm wide, carried on a veryshort pedicel at maturity, sometimes not exceeding the ground level; seeds darkbrown, irregularly subglobose, 3–3.5 mm diameter, covered with a dense mat oflong papillae. 2n=14.Phenology: Flowering November—December.Habitat: Open rocky hillside on limestone formation in scrub, sparse grass andmaquis, 680–950 metres.Distribution: Jordan, Moab.

4. C. oreocreticus B.L.Burtt in Phyton 1:224 (1949). Type: Crete, ‘Hierapetra: AphendiKavusi, oberhalb Thriphti, 900–1350 m, 3 December 1939’, Davis 1609 (K).

Corms ovoid, c. 10–15 mm diameter, depressed-globose and flattened at the base;tunics fibrous, the fibres finely reticulated. Cataphylls 3–4, white or pinkish-brown

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (40)

B.MATHEW24

stained, membranous. Leaves 7–15, subhysteranthous or synanthous but if absentat anthesis then developing immediately after flowering, green or slightly greyish,0.5–1 mm wide, glabrous. Flowers autumnal, 1–2, rarely more, mid-lilac to purplewith darker veining, the exterior pale silvery or buff coloured (very rarely albino),throat lilac, glabrous. Prophyll present. Bract and bracteole present, subequal inlength but the bracteole narrower, white and somewhat flaccid, tapering graduallyto an acute apex. Perianth tube usually 4–5 cm long, white or lilac; segmentssubequal, 1.4–3.3 cm long, 0.4–1.1 cm wide, oblanceolate, obtuse, the inner usuallyslightly smaller than the outer. Filaments 5–8 mm long, white, glabrous; anthers10–17 mm long, yellow. Style divided into 3 red (rarely yellow), apically thickenedbranches, each branch (5–) 13–20(21) mm long and about equalling the tips ofthe anthers, arising at a point at or just above the throat of the flower, below thebase of the anthers. Capsule oblong, c. 15 mm long, 7 mm wide, produced on ashort pedicel just above ground level; seeds reddish-purple, subglobose, c. 3–4mm long, with a pointed caruncle; raphe, a rather low ridge running the length ofthe seed; testa covered with a dense mat of papillae. 2n=16.Phenology: Flowering October–December.Habitat: Open rocky mountains with Astragalus, Phlomis, Sarcopoterium spinosumand Berberis cretica in heavy reddish soil on limestone formations, 900–2000 metres.Distribution: Crete, recorded on Mt. Psiloritis (Ida, Idi), the Lasithi and Katharoareas, and the Sitia mountains.

5. C. pallasii Gold. in Mém. Soc. Nat. Moscou 5:157 (1817).A very widespread and variable species; four subspecies are recognised as follows:

1. Perianth segments ligulate or narrowly oblanceolate, usually 4–7 mm wide, deepreddish-purple; style branches usually pale yellow.Southern Turkey, northern Syria 5d. subsp. dispathaceusPerianth segments obovate or oblanceolate, (4–) 8–16 mm wide, pale to deep lilacblue; style branches usually red or orange 2

2. Style branches widely and abruptly expanded at apex; perianth segments obovate,rounded or obtuse, often notched at apex; corm with a long fibrous neck to 10cm long.Western Iran, north-eastern Iraq, southern Jordan 5c. subsp. haussknechtiiStyle branches expanding gradually to the apex and usually fairly slender throughout; perianth segments elliptic, oblanceolate or obovate, acute to acuminate; cormwithout a neck or with a fibrous neck up to 6 cm long 3

3. Perianth segments narrowly oblanceolate, acute to acuminate, 4–10(–12) mm wide;corm with an extended fibrous neck (2–)3.5–6 cm long. South-eastern Turkey,Syria, Lebanon 5b. subsp. turcicusPerianth segments elliptic, oblanceolate or obovate, subacute to acute, (5–) 8–16mm wide; corm without a neck or with a short fibrous neck up to 2 cm long. 4

4. Leaves green; corm without an obvious neck. Southern Peloponnese5e. subsp. ‘E’

Leaves grey-green; corm with a neck 1–2 cm long. Balkans, Crimea, western,central and southern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel 5a. subsp. pallasii

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (41)

BOTANY, TAXONOMY AND CYTOLOGY 25

5a) C. pallasii subsp. pallasii Goldb. in Mém. Soc. Nat. Moscou 5:157 (1817).Type: Crimea, ‘in Tauriae collibus’ (no specimen traced).

Synonyms:C. serotinus Ker-Gawl. in Bot. Mag.: t. 1267 (1810), partly as to syn. C. autumnaliscampestris specimens from Crimea and southern Russia.C. campestris Pallas ex Herbert in Bot. Mag. sub. t. 3864 (1841).C. hybernus Friv. in Griseb., Spicil. Fl. Rumel. 2:374 (1844).C. pallasianus Herb. in Bot. Reg. 30, t. 3, Fig. 2 (1844).C. sativus var. elwesii Maw in Gard. Chron. n.s. 16:430 (1881).C olbanus Siehe in Allg. Bot. Zeitschr. 12:1 (1906).C. elwesii (Maw) O.Schwarz in Fedde Repert. Sp. Nov. 36:74 (1934).C. thiebautii Mouterde in Bull. Soc. Bot. France 101:422 (1954).C. libanoticus Mouterde in Bull. Soc. Bot. France 101:422 (1954).C. haussknechtii sensu Mouterde, Nouv. Fl. Lib. et Syrie 1:297 (1966), non Boiss.& Reut. ex Maw) Boiss.

Corms ovoid, c. 10–20(–25) mm diameter, depressed-globose; tunics fibrous, thefibres finely reticulated, extended at the apex into a neck up to 2 cm long. Cataphylls3–5, white, membranous. Leaves (5–)7–17, synanthous or subsynanthous but ifabsent at anthesis then developing immediately after flowering, greyish-green, 0.5–1.5 mm wide, glabrous or scabrid to papillose on the margins of keel and blade.Flowers fragrant, autumnal, 1–6, pale pinkish-lilac to deep lilac-blue or purplish-blue, usually slightly veined darker; throat white or lilac, pubescent. Prophyllpresent. Bract and bracteole present, unequal, membranous, white, taperinggradually to acute, flaccid tips. Perianth tube 4–7(–10) cm long, white, lilac orpurplish; segments (1.9–)2.5–5 cm long, (5–8)–16 cm wide, elliptic, oblanceolateor obovate, acute or subacute, the inner often slightly smaller than the outer.Filaments 2–5 mm long, white, glabrous or sparsely papillose-pubescent; anthers9–20 mm long, yellow. Style divided into 3 red (occasionally yellow) branches,each branch 3–15 mm long and half as long as the perianth segments, rather slenderand tapering gradually to the expanded apex. Capsule ellipsoid, 15–25 mm long, 7–10 mm wide, produced on a short pedicel at or just above ground level at maturity;seeds reddish-purple, irregularly subglobose, 3–4 mm diameter, with a small, pointedcaruncle; raphe, usually a small ridge running the length of the seed but occasionallywing-like; testa covered with a dense mat of papillae. 2n=14.Phenology: Flowering October-November.Habitat: Open stony or rocky hillsides, often on sparse scrub or spiny steppevegetation, on limestone or basalt formation, 70–2820 metres.Distribution: Macedonia, southern Serbia, eastern Roumania, southern and easternBulgaria, northern Greece, Aegean Islands (Lesbos), Crimea, Lebanon, Israel,western, central and southern Turkey, ? Syria.

b) C. pallasii subsp. turcicus B. Mathew in Pl. Syst. Evol. 129:98 (1977). Type:Turkey, Gaziantep Province, Urfa to Gaziantep road, 22 km from Gaziantep, steepchalky hillside, 800 m, 3 November 1973, T.Baytop & B.Mathew ISTE 27025 (Kholotype, ISTE isotype).

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (42)

B.MATHEW26

Synonym:C. macrobolbos Jovet. & Gomb. in Bull. Soc. Bot. France 103, 7–8:460 (1956).Description as for subsp. pallasii except for the following:Corm 15–35 mm diameter; tunics extended into a neck (2–)3.5–6 cm long. Leavesabsent at flowering time but the dried remains of the previous season’s sometimespersisting until anthesis. Perianth segments 2.5–5 cm long, 4–10(–12) mm wide,narrowly oblanceolate, acute to acuminate. Filaments 2–4 mm long; anthers 10–12mm long. 2n=12.Phenology: Flowering October—November.Habitat: Dry regions, usually in rocky places with steppe vegetation, 600–1700metres.Distribution: South-eastern Turkey.

c) C. pallasii subsp. haussknechtii (Boiss. & Reut. ex Maw) B.Mathew in Pl. Syst.Evol. 128:99 (1977). Type: Iran, ‘Kurdistan’.

Synonyms:C. sativus var. haussknechtii Boiss. & Reut. ex Maw in Gard Chron. 16:430 (1881).C. haussknechtii (Boiss. & Reut. ex Maw) Boiss., Fl. Orient. 5:100 (1882)

Description as for subsp. pallasii except for the following:Corms up to 30 mm diameter with a fibrous neck up to 10 cm long. Perianthsegments obovate, rounded or obtuse, often emarginate or retuse, rarely acute,3.5–4.2 cm long, 0.8–1.4 cm wide. Filaments 3–6 mm long; anthers 1.3–2 cmlong. Style branches intense dark red, 5–13 mm long, clavate, markedly andabruptly expanded at the apex, the point of division of the style varying from apoint level with the middle of the anthers to just below their tips. 2n=16.Phenology: Flowering October–November.Habitat: Dry fields or rocky hillside, or in sparse Quercus scrub, 1300–2100 metres.Distribution: Western Iran, north-eastern Iraq, southern Jordan.

d) C. pallasii subsp. dispathaceus (Bowles) B.Mathew, The Crocus: 54 (1982).

Type:? N.Syria, Aleppo, 17 December 1912. Cultivated specimens from cormsdistributed by George Egger of Jaffa, Syria.

Synonym:C. dispathaceus Bowles, A. Handbook of Crocus and Colchicum, ed. 1:68 (1924).

Description as for subsp. pallasii except for the following:Corms up to 30 mm diameter with fibrous neck (2–)3–7 cm long. Flowers deepreddish-purple or mauve-pink. Perianth segments 4–7 mm wide, ligulate or verynarrowly oblanceolate. Style branches inconspicuous, very slender, yellow orsometimes pale orange. 2n=14Phenology: Flowering September—November.Habitat: Dry Quercus coccifera scrub or in sparse Juniperus/Quercus/Pinus woods,in terra rossa on limestone formation, 350–2000 metres.Distribution: Southern Turkey, northern Syria.

e) C. pallasii subsp. E (B.Mathew, ined,). Based on a specimen collected in Greece,Peloponnese, Mt.Parnon, M.Koenen s.n. (K).

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (43)

BOTANY, TAXONOMY AND CYTOLOGY 27

Description as for subsp. pallasii except for the following:Corms almost without a fibrous neck, the tunics weakly reticulate. Leaves 5-10,green. Flowers bright lilac; style branches orange, arising at a point near or abovethe top of the anthers. 2n=??.Phenology: Flowering ?October-November.Habitat: Open rock scrubland, 1500 metres.Distribution: Southern Greece, Peloponnese, Mt. Parnon near Ag. Vasileios, 1550metres.Note: Field studies are required; at first this appeared to be close to C. pallasii andwas tentatively placed here as a further subspecies. However, recent studies nowsuggest that it should be regarded as a subspecies of C. hadriaticus.6. C. thomasii Ten., Mem. Crochi Fl. Nap. 12, t. 4 (1826). Type: Italy. Calabria,Serre di S.Bruno; Monte della Stella, Thomas (K).

Synonyms:C. thomasianus Herb. in Bot. Reg. 30: t. 3, Fig. 6 (1844).C. visianicus Herbert in Bot. Reg. 1845: Misc. 83 (1845).

Corms 8–12(–15) mm diameter, depressed-globose, flattened at the base; tunicsfibrous, the fibres very slender and finely reticulated, extended at the apex of thecorm into a neck up to 1 cm long. Cataphylls 3–5, papery, white. Leaves 5–10,synanthous, usually equalling the flower at anthesis, but sometimes only the tipsshowing, green, 0.5–1.5 mm wide, glabrous or papillose on the margins. Flowersautumnal, fragrant, 1–2 (–3), pale to deep lilac, generally not strongly veineddarker but sometimes veined or stained violet towards the base of the segments;throat pale yellow, pubescent. Prophyll present. Bract and bracteole present, veryunequal, white, membranous with long tapering flaccid tips. Perianth tube 3–6 (–8) cm long; segments 2–4.5 cm long, 0.7–1.5 cm wide, elliptic, obovate oroblanceolate, acute or obtuse. Filaments 5-8 cm long, usually pale yellow, glabrousor finely pubescent at the base; anthers 9–13 mm long, yellow. Style divided at avariable point, usually ranging from just below or level with the base of the anthersto about a quarter of the way up the anthers, into 3 bright red branches, each 0.7–2 cm long, half or less than half the length of the perianth segments, expandedgradually to the apex. Capsule ellipsoid, 1–1.5 cm long, 0.5–0.7 cm wide, raisedon a pedicel to 2.5 cm long (above ground level) at maturity; seed globose, about2 mm diameter with a poorly developed raphe and pointed caruncle. 2n=16.Phenology: Flowering: October–November.Habitat: Open rocky or stony slopes or in sparse scrub, sea level to 1000 metres.Distribution: Southern Italy and the Dalmatian coastal region.

7. C. hadriaticus Herbert in Bot. Reg. 31: Misc. 82 (1845). Type: Greece, LevkasIs., ‘On the hill of Chrysobeloni’, Vrioni (K); Dodona, near Ioannina, Saunders(not traced).

Synonyms:C. hadriaticus var. chrysobelonicus Herb., loc. cit.C. hadriaticus var. saunderianus Herb., loc. cit.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (44)

B.MATHEW28

C. peloponnensiacus Orph. in Boiss., Diagn. Ser. 2,4:95 (1895).C. nivalis Klatt in Linnaea 34:720 (1865–1866), partly as to syn. C.peloponnensiacus Orph. and specimens Orphanides 67, 68.

Corms 10–15 mm diameter, depressed-globose, rather flattened at the base; tunicsfibrous, the fibres very slender and finely reticulated, extended at the apex of thecorm into a short neck. Cataphylls 3–4, white, membranous. Leaves 5–9, normallysynanthous, sometimes equalling the flower at anthesis, but sometimes very shortand occasionally absent, but then appearing immediately after the flowers,grey-green, 0.5–1 mm wide, ciliate. Flowers autumnal, fragrant, 1–3, white, oftenstained externally brownish, yellowish or violet at the base of the segments, rarelyflushed throughout pale lilac; throat yellow or rarely white, pubescent. Prophyllpresent. Bract and bracteole present, subequal or with the bracteole much narrower,white, membranous with long-tapering, rather flaccid tips. Perianth tube 3–9 cmlong, white, yellow, brownish or violet; segments equal or the inner slightly smaller,2–4.5 cm long, 0.7–2 cm wide, elliptic-oblanceolate, obtuse. Filaments 3–11 cmlong, yellow or white, glabrous or sparsely and minutely pubescent just at thebase; anthers 7–15 mm long, yellow. Style divided into 3 slender branches, eachbranch 10–16(–20) mm long, slightly shorter than or exceeding the anthers, lessthan half the length of the perianth segments, arising at a point above the throatof the flower. Capsule ellipsoid, 1.2–2 cm long, 0.6–0.8 cm wide, raised on apedicel to 4.5 cm long (above ground level) at maturity; seed reddish-brown,subglobose, 2–3 mm long, the raphe narrow and poorly developed, carunclepointed, less than 1 mm long; testa covered with a dense mat of papillae. 2n=16.Phenology: Flowering: September-November.Habitat: In open scrub or short turf or rock hillsides of limestone or shale, 250–1500 metres.Distribution: Western and southern Greece, recorded from the Pindus Mountains,Mt. Parnassus, central, southern and eastern Peloponnese, Cephalonia Is., LevkasIs., Kythira Is.Notes: The pale lavender-coloured variants of C. hadriaticus from the southernPeloponnese have been named forma lilacinus B.Mathew in Kew Mag. 3, 4:311(1986). These occur sporadically in populations of otherwise ‘normal’ white-flowered plants and may be the result of introgression from another taxon in thearea, possibility that referred to above as C. pallasii subsp. ‘E’. Recent studies nowsuggest that this represents a subspecies of C. hadriaticus B.Mathew, ined. Thewholly whiteflowered plants (i.e. lacking a yellow throat) from Mt. Parnassus arenamed forma parnassicus B.Mathew, loc. cit.

8. C. asumaniae B.Mathew & T.Baytop in Notes Roy. Bot. Gard. Edinb. 37,3:469 (1979). Type: Turkey, Antalya Province, near Aseki, 900 m, 6 November1976, T. Baytop ISTE 36254 (K holotype, E, ISTE isotypes).

Corms ovoid, c. 15–20 mm diameter; tunics fibrous, the fibres very slender andfinely reticulated, extended at the apes of the corm into a neck 3–4 cm long.Cataphylls 2–3, white, membranous. Leaves 5–6, hysteranthous or with the tipsjust showing at anthesis, slightly greyish-green, 0.5–1 mm wide, glabrous. Flowers

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (45)

BOTANY, TAXONOMY AND CYTOLOGY 29

autumnal, 1–3, white, occasionally with dark veins near the base of the segments,rarely very pale lilac; throat whitish or pale yellow, glabrous. Prophyll (?absentacc. to The Crocus) present. Bract and bracteole present, unequal, white,membranous with long-tapering, rather flaccid tips. Perianth tube 5–8 cm long,white; segments subequal, 2.5–3 cm long, 0.5–1 cm wide, oblanceolate or narrowlyelliptic, obtuse to acute, the inner slightly smaller than the outer. Filaments 2–5mm long, white or pale yellow, glabrous; anthers 10–20 mm long, yellow. Styledivided into a reddish-orange clavate branches, each branch 13–20 mm long andconsiderably exceeding the anthers and at least half the length of the perianthsegments, arising at a point well above the base of the anthers. Capsule ellipsoid,c. 1 cm long; seeds reddish-purple, subglobose, 2–3 mm long, with a pointedcaruncle about 1 mm long; raphe, a rather indistinct ridge running the length ofthe seed; testa covered with a dense mat of long papillae. 2n=26.Phenology: Flowering October–November.Habitat: Open spaces in Quercus cerris and Q. coccifera scrub, in stony groundwith limestone outcrops, 900–1250 metres.Distribution: Turkey, Antalya Province.

9. C. mathewii Kerndorff & Pasche in The New Plantsman 1, 2:102–106 (1994).Type: Turkey, Antalya Province, Lycian Taurus Mts., 400–1100 metres, 16November 1992, Kerndorff & Pasche HKEP 9291 (holotype K).

Corms (13–) 16 (–24) mm diameter, depressed-globose, flattened at the base; tunicsfibrous, the fibres slender and parallel in the lower part, slightly reticulate near theapex of the corm, extended into a neck (10–) 19 (–32) cm long. Cataphylls 2–4,silvery-white, membranous, suffused brown near the apex. Leaves (4) 7 (10),hysteranthous, dark green, slightly greyish, 1–2 mm wide, sparsely ciliate. Flowersautumnal, fragrant, 1–3, white or rarely pale lilac-blue, often stained deep violetat the base of the segments inside and outside; throat violet, pubescent. Prophyllpresent. Bract and bracteole present, subequal, silvery-white, membranous withlong-tapering, rather flaccid tips. Perianth tube (4–) 7 (–12) cm long, usually violetin the upper part, paler to almost white lower down; segments subequal, 1.9–3 cmlong, 0.7–1.3 cm wide, ovate to obovate, obtuse to slightly acuminate, the innerslightly smaller than the outer. Filaments 3–4 mm long, white, glabrous; anthers10–12 mm long, yellow. Style divided into 3 orange to red branches, each branch6–10 mm long, usually clearly exceeding, but sometimes equalling or rarely shorterthan, the anthers, and less than half as long (rarely half as long) as the length ofthe perianth segments, arising at a point well above the base of the anthers. Capsuleellipsoid, c. 2 cm long and 1 cm wide, raised on a short pedicel above ground levelat maturity; seeds purplish-brown, globose, 4–5 mm diameter, the raphe anindistinct ridge, caruncle pointed, less than 1 mm long; testa covered with a densemat of papillae. 2n=16. (M.Johnson, pers. comm.) Phenology: Flowering October–November.Habitat: In Quercus coccifera scrub, between dolomite and calcareous rocks, 400–1000 metres.Distribution: Turkey, Antalya and Mugla Provinces.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (46)

B.MATHEW30

Notes: In Antalya and Mugla Provinces there are populations of Crocus of thisalliance which require detailed field investigation; the flowers are white or verypale lilac, often without the very conspicuous violet zoning which is such a strikingfeature of ‘typical’ C. mathewii. It is possible that these represent populations ofC. mathewii in which there has been some introgression from another species,perhaps C. pallasii.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I am indebted to the many friends and colleagues who have given me informationon Crocus species in the wild, and living material for study. In connection with the‘Saffron group’ I must mention in particular Turhan Baytop, Peter Bird, ChrisBrickell, Ray Cobb, Erna Frank, Chris Lovell, Helmut Kerndorff, Manfred Koenen,Erich Pasche, Jimmy Persson, Mike Salmon, David Stephens, Bob and RannveigWallis and Martin Young. I would also like to thank Christine Heywood (thenChristine Brighton) for the extensive cytological investigations carried out onCrocus whilst working in the Jodrell Laboratory at Kew; also Margaret Johnsonfor carrying out chromosome studies of the taxa described more recently.

REFERENCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bowles, E.A. (1924) A Handbook of Crocus and Colchicum. The Bodley Head, London.Brighton, C.A. (1977) Cytology of Crocus sativus and its allies. Plant Systematics and

Evolution, 128, 137–157.Burtt, R.L. (1948) Crocus oreocreticus. Phyton, 1, 224–225.Feinbrun, N. (1957) The genus Crocus in Israel and neighbouring countries. Kew Bulletin,

12, 270–276.Feinbrun, N. and Shmida, A. (1997) A new review of the genus Crocus in Israel and

neighbouring countries. Israel Journal of Botany, 26, 172–189.Herbert, W. (1847) History of the species of Crocus. Journal of the Horticultural Society of

London, 2, 249–293.Kemdorff, H. (1988) Observations on Crocus (Iridaceae) in Jordan with special reference

to Crocus moabiticus. Herberifa, 44, 33–53.Mathew, B. (1982) The Crocus—A Revision of the Genus Crocus. Batsford, London.Mathew, B. and Baytop, T. (1976) Some observations on Turkish Crocus. Notes from the

Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, 35, 61–67.Maw, G. (1886) A Monograph of the Genus Crocus. Dulau and Co., London.Mouterde, P. (1966) Nouvelle flore du Liban et de la Syrie. Imprimerie Catholique, Beyrouth,

Vol. 1, 295–299.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (47)

31

3. REPRODUCTION BIOLOGY OF SAFFRONAND ITS ALLIES

MARIA GRILLI CAIOLA

Department of Biology, University of Rome “Tor Vergata,”Via della Ricerca Srientifica 1—00133 Rome, Italy

ABSTRACT Studies on the reproductive biology of saffron and its allies (C. thomasiiand C. cartwrightianus) have indicated that the triploid C. sativus is mainly malesterile whereas the diploid C. thomasii and C. cartwightianus are self-sterile butcross-fertile. Saffron pollen is anomalous and a high percentage is unviable, and invitro and in vivo it has a very low percentage of germinating grains. Experimentshave demonstrated that its pistil can be fertilized by the pollen of C. thomasii orC. cartiwrightianus. Calcium ion seems to be involved in pollen-tube growth andthe fertilization process in fertile Crocus species.

INTRODUCTION

Saffron (Crocus sativus L., Iridaceae) multiplies by means of corms, and manselects the best ones for cultivation. Because saffron occurs only in culture, cormselection has led to improved populations of some characteristics, mainly the longred stigmas which, once dried, form the commercially important spice.

Vegetative multiplication offers advantages in maintaining the geneticcharacteristics of the plant, but it does not allow for any genetic improvement.Thus saffron from different cultivation areas represents clones which differ onlyin minor morphological and biochemical characteristics. Recent investigations byflow cytometry on the DNA of saffron cultivated in Italy, Israel and Spain (Brandizziand Grilli Caiola 1996a) demonstrated their DNA to be very similar quantitativelyand in their qualitative base composition, despite the fact that saffron from Israelwas quite different from the others in flower morphology. Commercial saffron isobtained from dried stigmas in which secondary products such as the crocin andcrocetin carotenoids, and the bitter principles derived from safranal, areconcentrated. Saffron production is a very long and expensive process due to thereduced number of flowers formed on each corm. Some attempts have been madeto obtain corms and flowers in vitro (Igarashi et al. 1993), but for geneticimprovement, seeds are needed. To date, seed set from saffron have not been reliablyreported due to the plant’s triploid genome. Studies on saffron reproduction werescarce until recent years, when many studies were initiated with the aim ofcomparing the infertile saffron with its supposed fertile diploid ancestors.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (48)

M.GRILLI CAIOLA32

Little is known about the possible ancestors of saffron and how saffronoriginated. Comparative morphological, cytological and phenological studies(Brighton 1977, Mathew 1982, Karasawa 1933) led to the hypothesis that themost probable ancestors of C. sativus (Figure 3.1) were C. cartwrightianus Herb.(Figure 3.2) or C. thomasii Ten. (Figure 3.3). These last two species have differentnatural distribution areas and the likelihood of natural crosses between saffronand these species is improbable. The hypothesis that C. sativus is related to C.cartiwrightianus has been confirmed by recent data obtained by flow cytometry,quantitative and qualitative analysis of DNA of isolated nuclei, and mathematicalDNA-base-pair estimation (Brandizzi and Grilli Caiola 1996a). The DNA contentof C. cartiwrightianus nuclei is very similar to C. sativus, less so with respect to C.thomasii. Although analysis of G-C and A-T content also indicates higher G-Ccontent in all three species, the G-C percentage in C. sativus was hom*ogeneous indifferent clones and similar to C. cartwrightianus, but lower than that in C.thomasii. Polisomaty did not occur in any of the three species.

However, taking into account that on an embryological basis (Chichiriccò 1989a)C. thomasii could also be an ancestor of saffron, attempts were made to comparereproduction processes in the three species. C. sativus, C. cartwrightianus, C.thomasii were compared with respect to male and female gametophytes, and pollen-tube development in the stigma and style after self-, cross-, intra- and interspecificpollination (Grilli Caiola et al. 1985, Grilli Caiola 1994, 1995). Preliminary studiesconsidered the reproduction biology of C. sativus, C. cartiwrightianus and C.thomasii, then experiments were carried out on mixed cultures of C. sativus withC. thomasii and C. sativus with C. cartwrightianus.

Figure 3.1 Crocus sativus.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (49)

REPRODUCTION BIOLOGY OF SAFFRON AND ITS ALLIES 33

Figure 3.2 Crocus cartwightianus, white-flowered.

Figure 3.3 C. thomasii.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (50)

M.GRILLI CAIOLA34

SPOROGENESIS

Saffron triploidy has been demonstrated by numerous authors (e.g., Karasawa1933, Brighton 1977). Studies on micro—and megasporogenesis in saffronconfirmed that meiosis occurs in an anomalous manner with irregular chromosomepairing, division and distribution in the derived nuclei (Chichiriccò and Grilli Caiola1984, Chichiriccò 1987, 1989b, Grilli Caiola and Chichiriccò 1991). Yet whereasmicrosporogenesis gives rise to a high percentage of anomalous microspores andconsequently different pollen grains, megaspores and the derived embryo sacdeveloped in a more regular manner. Thus a high number of regular embryo sacshave been found in the ovules of saffron. Regular micro- and megasporogenesisoccur in the diploid C. thomasii and C. cartwrightianus, and a high percentage ofthe spores and derived gametophytes are therefore normally structured.

POLLEN ORGANIZATION AND VIABILITY

C. sativus mature pollen grains (Figure 3.4) are roundish in shape, with a fewbeing ovoid. Their dimensions vary: among grains of 91–94 µm in diameter, someare small, 50 µm in diameter. Pollen grains are inaperturate with a finelymultiaperturate exine, covered by numerous spinulae and lipid bodies formingpollenkitt (Figure 3.5). Pore-like depressions without exine but surrounded bymore numerous spinulae and lipid droplets are randomly distributed. In manycases, the pollen grain wall shows very large bands of broken exine. The mediansection of a pollen grain observed with a transmission electron microscope (TEM,

Figure 3.4 Crocus sativus pollen, SEM micrographs, Pollen grains of different sizes [Bar=50 µm].

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (51)

REPRODUCTION BIOLOGY OF SAFFRON AND ITS ALLIES 35

Figure 3.6) shows a thin exine (about 0.8 µm) but a thick electron-transparentintine (2.5 µm) crossed by channels containing proteins of gametophytic origin.

Cytoplasm (Figure 3.7) is mainly rich in lipid bodies and vesicles. Plastids areless evident, whereas numerous mitochondria and fragmented endoplasmicreticulum appear. Mature pollen is bicellular with a thin, elongated generative celland a roundish small vegetative nucleus (Figure 3.8).

Among the normally structured pollen grains the anomalous ones are numerous.These are generally smaller, empty, collapsed, and their wall broken in many places.An anther can contain up to 74% anomalous grains. Pollen viability (Table 3.1),assayed by means of fluorescein diacetate (FDA+), is about 66%, whereas alcoholdehydrogenase activity (ADH+) is lower (57%). Aborted pollen grains revealed bythe Alexander method (Alexander 1969) are always high in number (Figure 3.9,Table 3.1). This low viability has to be related to saffron’s triploid genome (Mathew1982). This anomalous composition in pollen grains results in low pollengermination both in vitro and in vivo (Table 3.2). Differences are not evidentwhen pollen germination occurs on stigmas after self- or outcross pollination.Characteristics are the anomalies accompanying pollen germination, concerningthe aspects and behaviour of the pollen-tube emission and growth. Bifurcate,enlarged, or thin tips, or spirally elongated pollen tubes, occur frequently in pollengerminated in media or on stigmas and in styles.

C. thomasii (Figures 3.10, 3.11) and C. cartiwrightianus have pollen grainshom*ogeneously shaped and sized but smaller than those of C. sativus (Table 3.1).

Figure 3.5 Crocus sativus pollen, SEM micrographs, Exine surface with spinulae (s) and lipid droplets(I) [Bar=2 µm].

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (52)

M.GRILLI CAIOLA36

Figure 3.6 Crocus sativus pollen, TEM micrographs. Median section of pollen showing the externalexine with spinulae (s) and outer intine (i) with channels containing proteins and multilayered innerintine. In the cytoplasm, lipid bodies and numerous vesicles are visible [Bar=2.5 µm].

Figure 3.7 Crocus sativus pollen, TEM micrographs, Cytoplasm with large and small vesicles (v),endoplasmic reticulum (r) and vegetative nucleus (n) [Bar=0.6 µ,m].

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (53)

REPRODUCTION BIOLOGY OF SAFFRON AND ITS ALLIES 37

Figure 3.8 Crocus sativus pollen, Pollen grains of C. sativus under an interference microscope. Insidethe cytoplasm, a roundish vegetative nucleus and spindle generative cell are visible [Bar=50 µm].

Figure 3.9 Crocus sativus pollen, Aborted (a) and viable pollen grains after Alexander staining underlight microscopy [Bar=50 µm].

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (54)

M.GRILLI CAIOLA38

Pollen ultrastructure shows the pollen wall, with exine thinner than in C. sativus,whereascytoplasmic organization is the same (Grilli Caiola and Di Somma 1994).All three species have bicellular pollen. The vegetative nucleus in C. thomasii isdeeply lobed and surrounds the generative cell. The percentage of anomalous andaborted grains is low so a large amount of the pollen germinates, mainly afteroutcross-pollination. Crossed pollination between these three species shows thatC. sativus pollen is highly sterile on the stigmas of C. thomasii and C.cartwrightianus, but the pollen of these last two species on stigmas of C. sativusreveals high compatibility with C. thomasii, but less with C. cartwightianus, Fromthis point of view, C. sativus and C. cartwightianus seem to share common

Table 3.1 Pollen size (µm) and percentage of viable (FDA+, ADH+), anomalous and aborted pollengrains in Crocus sativus, C. cartwrightianus and C. thomasii

Table 3.2 Germinated pollen grains (%) of Crocus sativus, C. cartwrightianus and C. thomasii invitro and after self- and cross-pollination

Figure 3.10 Crocus thomasii pollen grain after ADH treatment [Bar=100 µm].

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (55)

REPRODUCTION BIOLOGY OF SAFFRON AND ITS ALLIES 39

incompatibility genes. C. thomasii has the highest percentage of pollen germinationon stigmas both of C. sativus and C. cartwrightianus, but much more so on thelatter.

PISTIL ORGANIZATION

C. sativus pistil organization has been studied in flower buds and in flowers atdifferent developmental stages (Grilli Caiola and Chichiriccò 1991). At anthesis,the saffron pistil has a dry-type stigma with papillae that are covered by a thickcontinuous cuticle. Stigmas are longer (about 2 cm) than the anthers and frequentlyalso longer than the tepals. They are erect during anthesis but as the flower opensthey bend downwards. The style is about 9 cm long, internally made up of threeseparate channels forming a single cavity in the main tract lined with a layer ofsecretory cells. This secretory layer extends down to the ovary where the stylarcavity opens into three locules.

The ovary is tricarpellar and trilocular. Along the axial region of the locules,placentas differentiate the ovules (Figure 3.12). The ovules are obliquely attached tothe ovarian axis in six longitudinal rows, two for each locule, forming a total of 18–20

Figure 3.11 Details of vegetative cytoplasm and generative cell (gc) of Crocus thomasii pollen underEM.Lipid bodies (I) and vesicles (v) are visible in the vegetative cytoplasm [Bar=1 µ,m].

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (56)

M.GRILLI CAIOLA40

ovules per locule. Ovarian septa widen towards the base and much more towardsthe style, narrowing at the top of the locule where there is a wide sterile portion.

Three symmetrically arranged canals traverse the ovarian septa longitudinally,originating approximately at the level of the median part of the ovary and endingat the base of the style. Located between two vascular bundles, they expand in theupper part of the ovary and cover about half the length of the septa. Ovariancanals are lined with an epidermal layer of radially elongated secretory cells, similarto septal nectaries present in other Crocus species. However, only a little secretionoccurs. Ovules are anatropous and bitegmic with a large hypostasis (Figure 3.12).The external integument extends beyond the internal one and forms a narrowmicropylar canal. Megasporogenesis occurs early upon sprouting in Septemberand an embryo sac appears in the ovules of flower buds at the 1.5 to 2 cm longstage, when the flower is fully enveloped by cataphylls. There are therefore nodifferences between embryo sacs from floral buds and those from young and matureflowers. In fact, the embryo sac preserves its structure for some time after thewilting of the flowers. About 90% of the ovules develop an embryo sac which isseven-nucleate when mature. Most of the embryo sacs contain a substance thatstains red with Poinceau 2R, specially during the initial developmental stages.None of the control saffron plants, unpollinated, freely or hand pollinated,developed fruits or seeds, indicating the absence of apomittic processes.

The pistils of C. cartwightianus and C. thomasii are organized similarly to C.sativus, but the dimensions of the ovary, and the number of ovule and matureembryo sacs within it at anthesis, differ. The ovary of C. cartwrightianus contains18–20 ovules per locule. The inner ovule integument is formed by four to fivelayers, that of the outer one by five to six. C. thomasii has 24–28 ovules per loculeand each ovule has an inner integument of four to five layers at the micropyle andfive to six at the outer wall.

Figure 3.12 Longitudinal section of an ovule of Crocus sativus in which the integuments (t) and theembryo sac (e) with female gametophyte are visible [Bar=10 µm].

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (57)

REPRODUCTION BIOLOGY OF SAFFRON AND ITS ALLIES 41

In all three species, the megagametophyte differentiates early, being just evidentin the flower bud. Then the embryo sac maintains its integrity until some daysafter anthesis.

FERTILIZATION

Studies on saffron pollen biology in vitro (Chichiriccò and Grilli Caiola 1982,1984, 1986, Grilli Caiola et al. 1985) have indicated that a high percentage of thepollen is infertile (Table 3.2), but this need not be a barrier to seed set becauseeach anther produces a high number of pollen grain, (about 7,000). Problemsarise when pollen germinates on the stigma (Figure 3.13), after both self- andoutcross pollination. Pollen germination on the stigma indicated that saffron isself- and outcross sterile, but pollen from C. thomasii or C. cartwightianus is ableto germinate (Table 3.3) and grow in the saffron pistil. Fertilized ovules and fruitset have been obtained in vitro from C. sativus pistils pollinated with C. thomasiipollen (Chichiriccò 1989c). Parthenocarpic fruit development from ovaries culturedon an agar medium supplemented with growth substances was independent ofovary age (before, during and after anthesis), confirming that ovules remain viable

Figure 3.13 Germinated pollen grains (arrow) on Crocus sativus stigma 2 h after cross-pollination[Bar=50 µm].

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (58)

M.GRILLI CAIOLA42

a long time after anthesis (Chichiriccò and Grilli Caiola 1987, Grilli Caiola andChichiriccò 1991). Self- and cross-pollination of saffron also revealed that it doesnot produce seeds after intraspecific pollination, but capsules and seeds matureafter stigmatic pollination with C. thomasii pollen (Chichiriccò 1989c). Both C.thomasii and C. cartwrightianus are self-sterile but out-cross-fertile species (GrilliCaiola 1994, 1995).

Experiments carried out in the field led to the finding that although self-,outcross- and unpollinated pistils of saffron did not produce fruits and seeds, acapsule was obtained from a saffron plant grown near C. cartwrightianus plants(unpublished data).

In nature, this is possible where C. sativus and C. cartwrightianus flowersimultaneously, and the weather is hot (about 25°C) and sunny. These ecologicalconditions favour the presence of visiting pollinators which are attracted by thescented Crocus flowers. Observations carried out for some years led to theidentification of the hymenopteran Bombus silvestris as responsible for interspecificpollinations between saffron and C. cartwrightianus. In fact, Bombus appears ingroups of 2 to 10 individuals during the late morning hours, when flowers openand emanate their scent. Under these conditions, insects collect pollen fromnumerous flowers. Because they do not discriminate between different species ofpollen, such as C. sativus and C. cartwrightianus, pollination between differentspecies is possible.

The capsules and seeds obtained were larger than those of C. cartwrightianusand C. thomasii, but very similar in other aspects such as shape, colour, seedarrangement and capsule dehiscence.

THE ROLE OF CALCIUM ION IN THE REPRODUCTIONPROCESS OF SAFFRON AND ITS ALLIES

The role of calcium in flower plant reproduction has been reported in a number ofprocesses. Ca2+ ions affect processes such as pollen germination, pollen-tube growth,and control of pollen germination on stigma in incompatible sporophytic processes,(Bednarska 1989, Frankling-Tong et al. 1993). Also, in the fertilization processes,Ca2+ has been thought to be involved in the chemotropic guidance of the pollentube towards the region of synergids and to be the cause of the tip’s rupture for therelease of sperm cells (Chaubal and Reger 1994).

Table 3.3 Percentage of germinated pollen grains on stigmas after pollination between Crocussativus, C. cartwrightianus and C. thomasii

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (59)

REPRODUCTION BIOLOGY OF SAFFRON AND ITS ALLIES 43

Saffron pollen germination in vitro shows some anomalies of pollen-tubeemission and growth similar to those reported in other plants when pollengerminates in a calcium-free medium (Brewbaker and Kwack 1963, Pfahler 1967).

In saffron and its allies calcium ions do not seem to be necessary to startgermination in vitro, but appear to be related to regular growth of the pollen tubeboth in vitro and in vivo. Calcium-ion concentration in the stigmas, styles andovaries of unpollinated and self- and cross-pollinated pistils of C. sativus and C.cartwrightianus has been detected by means of calcium-selective microelectrodes(Brandizzi and Grilli Caiola 1996b). Results indicated that calcium-ionconcentration decreases in unpollinated and pollinated infertile pistils of C. sativus,whereas in the fertile ovaries of C. cartwrightianus, an increase in this elementappears in relation to ovule fertilization after stigmatic cross-pollination. Thusincreased calcium levels in the fertilized ovaries can be a signal that fertilizationhas occurred. Similar results have been reported in the self- and cross-pollinatedfertile Crocus biflorus (in press) and in the cross-pollinated fertile ovary of theiridacean Hermodactylus tuberosus L. (Grilli Caiola and Brandizzi 1994).

Ultrathin pollen sections observed by EM by electron spectroscopy imaging (ESI)and electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS) (Grilli Caiola et al. 1996) revealed ahigh calcium content in the pollen wall as well as in the cytoplasm of C. sativus andC. cartwrightianus, confirming that calcium is not a limiting factor for pollengermination in saffron. Fluorescence detected by chlorotetracycline treatment inpollen grains and papillae before and after pollination revealed a constant calciumdecrease in pollen grain and in papillae in both unpollinated and pollinated stigmas.All these results suggest that calcium is involved in the fertilization processes offertile Crocus species. Detection of calcium concentration in the pollen and pistil ofC. sativus, C. cartwrightianus and C. thomasii at different developmental stages(bud flower, before and at anthesis) indicated that calcium accumulates in the upperparts of the pistil from the flower bud stage to anthesis. The C. thomasii pistil isrichest in Ca2+. It reaches the highest values of 2.3×10-3 M ± 0.1 in the stigma of theclosed flower, whereas the lowest (5.5×10-6 M) and constant values have beenobtained in the pistil of closed C. sativus flowers.

Although these data do not enable one to draw conclusions about themechanisms regulating the compatibility and incompatibility processes, andinfertility and fertility in C. sativus and its allies, they do indicate that calcium ionscan be one of numerous factors regulating seed and fruit set.

REFERENCES

Alexander, M.P. (1969) Differential staining of aborted and nonaborted pollen. StainTechnology, 44, 117–122.

Bednarska, E. (1989) The effect of exogenous Ca2+ ions on pollen grain germination andpollen tube growth. Investigations with 45Ca2+ together with Verapamil, La3+, andrathenium red. Sex. Plant Reprod. 2, 53–58.

Brandizzi, F. and Grilli Caiola, M. (1996a) Quantitative DNA analysis in different Crocusspecies (Iridaceae) by means of flow cytometry. Giornale Botanico Italiano 130, 643–645.

Brandizzi, F. and Grilli Caiola, M. (1996b) Calcium variation in pistil of Crocus

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (60)

M.GRILLI CAIOLA44

cartwrightianus Herb, and Crocus sativus L.J. Trace andMicroprobe Techniques, 14,4115–4126.

Brewbaker, J.L. and Kwack, B.H. (1963) The essential role of calcium ion in pollengermination and pollen tube growth. American Journal of Botany, 50, 859–865.

Brighton, C.A. (1977) Cytology of Crocus sativus and its Allies (Iridaceae). Plant Systematicsand Evolution, 128,137–157.

Chaubal, B.J. and Reger, J.B. (1994) Dynamics of antimonate-precipitated calcium anddegeneration in unpollinated pearl millet synergids after maturity. Sex. Plant Reprod.,7, 122–134.

Chichkiccò, G. (1987) Megasporogenesis and development of embryo sac in Crocus sativusL. Caryologia, 40, 59–69.

Chichiriccò, G. (1989a) Embryology of Crocus thomasii (Iridaceae). Plant Systematics andEvolution, 168, 39–47.

Chichiriccò, G. (1989b) Microsporogenesis and pollen development in Crocus sativus L.Caryologia, 42, 237–249.

Chichiriccò, G. (1989c) Fertilization of Crocus sativus L. ovules and development of seedafter stigmatic pollination with C. thomasii Ten. pollen. Giornale Botanico Italiano,123, 31–37.

Chichiriccò, G. (1996) Intra- and interspecific reproductive barriers in Crocus (Iridaceae).Plant Systematics and Evolution, 201, 83–92.

Chichiriccò, G. and Grilli Caiola, M. (1982) Germination and viability of the pollen ofCrocus sativus L. Giornale Botanico Italiano, 116, 167–173.

Chichiriccò, G. and Grilli Caiola, M. (1984) Crocus sativus pollen tube growth in intra-and interspecific pollinations. Caryologia, 37, 115–125.

Chichiriccò, G. and Grilli Caiola, M. (1986) Crocus sativus pollen germination and pollentube growth in vitro and after intraspecific and interspecific pollination. CanadianJournal of Botany, 64, 2774–2777.

Chichiriccò, G. and Grilli Caiola, M. (1987) In vitro development of parthenocarpic fruitsof Crocus sativus L. Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture, 11, 75–78.

Franklin-Tong, V.E., Ride, J.P., Read, N.D., Trewavas, A.J. and Franklin, F.C.H. (1993).The selfincompatibility response in Papaver rhoeas is mediated by cytosolic free calcium.Plant J., 4, 163–177.

Grilli Caiola, M. (1994) Pollen structure and germination of Crocus thomasii Ten. (Iridaceae).Giornale Botanico Italiano, 128, 869–877.

Grilli Caiola, M. (1995) A study on pollen grains of Crocus cartwrightianus(Iridaceae).Plant Systematics and Evolution, 198, 155–166.

Grilli Caiola, M. and Brandizzi, F. (1994) Pistil calcium content and pollen germination inHermodactylus tuberosus (L.) Mill. (Iridaceae). Giornale Botanico Italiano, 128, 70.

Grilli Caiola, M., Brandizzi, F. and Canini, A. (1996) Calcium localization in pollen ofHermodactylus tuberosus Mill. (Iridaceae). Giornale Botanico Italiano, 130, 400.

Grilli Caiola, M. and Chichiriccò, G. (1991) Structural organization of the pistil in saffron(Crocus sativus L.). Israel Journal of Botany, 40, 199–207.

Grilli Caiola, M., Castagnola, M. and Chichkiccò, G. (1985) Ultrastructural study of Saffron(Crocus sativus L.) pollen. Giornale Botanico Italiano, 119, 61–66.

Grilli Caiola, M. and Di Somma, D. (1994) Comparative study on pollen of different Crocussativus aggregatus species. 13th Int. Congress ISSPR, Wien, July 1994.

Igarashi, Y., Hisada, A. and Yuasa, M. (1993) Regeneration of flower buds in culture ofovaries of saffron (Crocus sativus L.). XV International Botanical Congress, Tokyo.

Karasawa, K. (1933) On the triploidy of Crocus sativus L. and its high sterility. JapaneseJournal of Genetics, 9, 6–8.

Mathew, B. (1982) The Crocus: a Revision of the Genus Crocus (Iridaceae). Batsford, London.Pflahler, P.L. (1967) In vitro germination and pollen tube growth of maize (Zea mays L.)

pollen. I. Calcium and boron effects. Canadian Journal of Botany, 45, 839–945.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (61)

45

4. SAFFRON CHEMISTRY

DOV BASKER

Department of Food Science, Agricultural Research Organization,The Volcani Centre, Bet Dagan, Israel

ABSTRACT The principal components of saffron are discussed, those responsiblefor its colour, odour and taste. Analysis and any possible toxicity are also mentioned.

The proximate analysis of commercial saffron—the dried red stigmas of Crocussativus L.—has been reported (Nicholls 1945, Sastry et al. 1955, Triebold andAurand 1963, Stecher 1968, Indian Standard 1969, International StandardsOrganization 1970, Melchior and Kastner 1974, Sampathu et al. 1984, Baskerand Negbi 1985, Skrubis 1990) to give data, in % w/w, as in Table 4.1. Theproblems that precede chemical analysis include the guarantee of correct botanicalidentification, the risk of partial adulteration, and the presence of floral waste. Itis probably inevitable that parts of the yellow-to-uncoloured style, as well as anthersand possibly some petals or even leaves, are found.

Various limits are set for the quantity of floral waste (Nicholls 1945, InternationalStandards Organization 1970, Krogh and Akenstrand 1980) to below given levels(1%, 5%, 10%, 15%), depending on the declared quality category. While leavesshould really not be present at all, flowers picked once they have begun to wiltafter their 2to 3-day bloom cannot readily be separated into their constituentparts (Basker 1993) (see the chapter on saffron technology), and separate analysisof styles, particularly their tops (Skrubis 1990), may yet indicate the presence ofuncoloured positivequality taste parameters.

The most obvious characteristic of saffron is its deep red colour. The high glossof fresh stigmas becomes dulled upon drying, and a strong yellow extract passesinto water upon wetting the dried stigmas. Colour intensity is expressed as theextinction (=optical density) of a hypothetical 1% (w/v) solution at the wavelengthof its visible spectral maximum, in a 1-cm cell, and is written as (Booth,1957:9). The International Standards Organization (1980a) specified that for Category I commercial saffron be not less than 110 or 150 for hay and powderedsaffron—whose colour is presumably extracted more completely—, respectively(see the chapter on saffron technology), in water at 440 nm. For comparison, pure(ß-carotene at 451 nm in cyclohexane has an (Issler and Schudel 1963).The precise wavelength at the spectral peak of carotenoids tends to shift as afunction of the solvent employed (Booth 1957:6), and this must therefore alwaysbe stated.

The colour of saffron is due principally to a water-soluble carotenoid, a-crocin.The structures of some simple, water-insoluble carotenoids are shown (in Figure4.1) for simplicity in the all-trans forms; their visible colour is due to the conjugate

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (62)

D.BASKER46

Table 4.1 Proximate analysis of commercial saffron (% w/w)

Figure 4.1 Structural formulae of some carotenoids. (a) phytofluene, C40H68, 5 conjugated double bonds.(b) ß-carotene, C40H56, 11 conjugated double bonds. (c) crocetin, C20H24O4, 9 conjugated double bonds.(d) α-crocin, C44H64O24, 9 conjugated double bonds. R: gentiobiose (see Figure 4.2), linked in α-configuration.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (63)

SAFFRON CHEMISTRY 47

(alternating single with) double bonds. Thus phytofluene (Figure 4.1) with fiveconjugated double bonds is practically colourless (Zechmeister, 1962) whilephytoene, with only three conjugated double bonds—it has a single bond in the11–12 position—has no colour at all (ibid.). On the other hand, the stronglycoloured and most abundant natural carotenoid (Booth, 1957:7), ß-carotene (Figure4.1) has 11 conjugated double bonds; the structure of lycopene (found in tomatoes,etc.) is similar to that of ß-carotene except that the 1–6 and l’–6’ positions are notbound to one another, and double bonds are present instead at the 1–2 and 1’–2’positions (cf. phytofluene). The structure of a-crocin is based on the shorter carbonchain of crocetin (Figure 4.1) which has nine conjugated double bonds; a-crocin(Figure 4.1) is also a glycoside, a type of compound with a sugar—in this casegentiobiose (Figure 4.2)—and it is the presence of these moieties at both ends ofthe carotenoid molecule which account for its water-solubility. Other carotenoids,in both water-soluble and-insoluble forms, are present in lower concentrations(Pfander and Wittwer 1975 a, b, Dhingra et al. 1975).

A principal aim of commercial saffron analysis is the determination of the extractablecolour intensity on either macro—or micro-samples, gram or milligram quantities,respectively (International Standards Organization 1980b, Hanson 1973, Basker andNegbi 1985). Because of the risk of adulteration (Khanna et al. 1980, Kapur 1988),this is generally followed by thin-layer chromatography (TLC) of the aqueous extractto separate colour components, preferably with saffron of assured purity as a control(International Standards Organization 1970, Foppen 1971, Parvaneh 1972, Zweigand Sherma 1972, Dhar and Suri 1974, French Standard 1976).

Because of the high value of saffron (Basker 1993), many other types ofadulteration have been attempted by unscrupulous dealers (e.g., Pliny, 1st centuryCE, Lowell 1964, Encyclopaedia Judaica 1973, Sampathu et al. 1984), even at therisk of capital punishment (Bowles 1952, Meyer 1982).

All carotenoids are subject to oxidation, C=C bonds opening to receive oxygenatoms and consequently diminishing the characteristic colour. The reaction iscatalysed by light. The conjugative nature of the bond chain provides someprotection from oxidation, but on the other hand, the reaction protects an organismfrom further oxidative damage.

The undried fresh stigmas have a strong attractive odour to humans as well as tobees. Bees found in crocus flowers are frequently soporific. The odour of commerciallydried saffron has been identified as principally due to an aldehyde, safranal (Figure4.2), but it is not known whether the identity holds for the fresh odour as well.Safranal boils at 172°C at atmospheric pressure (Furia and Bellanca 1975), and issufficiently volatile at lower temperatures to be lost if given enough time (ibid.,Guenther 1952). Other odoriferous volatiles are present as well, in concentrationsvarying from 2 to 29% relative to safranal (Zarghami and Heinz 1971).

The bitterish but pleasant taste of saffron (Sastry et al. 1955) is due to a glucoside(a glycoside with glucose as the sugar), picrocrocin (Figure 4.2), which can bebroken down by heating (Stahl and Wagner 1969) or enzymatically (Guenther1952, Zarghami 1970) into safranal and D-glucose (Figure 4.2). “Very fresh”saffron is reported to contain ca 4% picrocrocin (Guenther 1952), also known as

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (64)

D.BASKER48

saffron-bitter (Parry 1962, Stecher 1968). Figure 4.2 also shows the structuraldifference between the ß—and a-configurations of D-glucose (and other sugars):the p of ß-carotene has an entirely different connotation.

Once it has been established that a sample of saffron is authentic, unadulterated,and free of excessive waste material, its commercial value relative to the market atthe moment (Basker 1993) depends on further quality characteristics. For manyconsumers who use it only as a magnificent yellow food colour (Sastry et al. 1955,Rietz 1961, Zarghami 1970), this parameter is quantitatively and readilydetermined spectrophotometrically as above. Quantitative and simpledeterminations of safranal and picrocrocin, even approximate, are moreproblematic. Saffron’s aqueous spectrum shows three peaks of different heights,

Figure 4.2 Structural formulae of some other compounds in saffron. (a): gentiobiose, C12H22O11, (seeFigure 4.1): P, 1–6’ link between glucose rings. (b) safranal, C10H14O. (c) picrocrocin, C26H26O7 (d): D-glucose, C6H12O7, 6-membered pyranose ring form. Left: ß-D-glucose. Right: α-D-glucose.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (65)

SAFFRON CHEMISTRY 49

at about 440 (visible), 325 and 255 nm (ultraviolet) (Basker and Negbi 1985). Ithas been reported that the two ultraviolet peaks can be used to estimate relativeconcentrations of safranal and picrocrocin, respectively, either directly (InternationalStandards Organization 1990) or by difference from a low-point at 297 nm (Corradiand Micheli 1979). Confirmation of such methods would be desirable and useful:the pure products are required for calibration purposes—methods for theirlaboratory extraction from saffron are given by Guenther (1952) (safranal bysteam-distillation), by Kuhn and Winterstein (1934) (picrocrocin by solventextraction), and by Iborra et al. (1992) for microsamples. HPLC (high-performanceliquid chromatography) has also been employed (Solinas and Cichelli 1988).

The variable composition of saffron is a drawback for pharmaceutical purposes,compounded by the absence of quantitative experimental evidence on the effectsof its major individual components. Before the scientific era, saffron was used,among other purposes (Basker and Negbi 1983), for the treatment of cardiac,lung, digestive and feminine disorders (Dioscorides, 1st century CE, Pliny, 1stcentury CE, Maimonides, 12th century CE, Gerard 1633, Buley 1933, Dawson1934, Warren 1970, Lewis and Elvin-Lewis, 1977). Although saffron has nowbeen reduced therapeutically to the status of a herbal remedy (Folch Andreu 1957,Bailey 1975, Lust 1978), it is difficult to dismiss medical experience out of hand(Sexton 1950, Gainer and Chisolm 1974, Grisolia 1974, Nishio et al. 1987,Panikkar 1990). The dose is also a matter of dispute, probably arising from thewide composition-range of the commercial product. This is of some importance,as anything in a large enough dose can be toxic (Stevens and Klarner 1990).Maimonides (12th century CE) warned that saffron “in excess” depresses appetite,the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1974) that unspecified “overdoses” are narcotic.Gerard (1633) and Culpeper (1652) advised about 0.5 g “for those at death’sdoor” and 1.5 g has proved fatal (Fasal and Wachner 1933), although Lust (1978)warns only about a 10 g dose; yet a trial-by-ordeal with such a dose in 16thcentury CE India resulted in survival, and thus freedom, for the accused (Holkarand Holkar 1975). Arena (1974) on one page describes the effects of poisoning bysaffron, and on another states that it has no toxic effects—possibly the results ofquite different doses.

REFERENCES

Arena, J.M. (1974) Poisoning: Toxicology, Symptoms, Treatments (3rd edn). CharlesC.Thomas, Springfield, IL, pp. 463, 592.

Bailey, L.H. (1975) Manual of Cultivated Plants. Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., NewYork, p. 265.

Basker, D. (1993) Saffron, the costliest spice: drying and quality, supply and price. ActaHort., 344, 86–97.

Basker, D. and Negbi, M. (1983) Uses of saffron. Econ. Bot., 37, 227–235.Basker, D. and Negbi, M. (1985) Crocetin equivalent of saffron extracts: comparison of

three extraction methods. J. Assoc. Publ. Analysts, 23, 65–69.Blacow, N.W. (Ed.) (1972) Martindate, The Extra Pharmacopoeia (26th ed.). The

Pharmaceutical Press, London, p. 726.Booth, V.H. (1957) Carotene; Its Determination in Biological Materials. Heffer, Cambridge.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (66)

D.BASKER50

Bowles, E.H. (1952) A Handbook of Crocus and Colchicum, The Bodley Head, London,pp. 63.

Buley, R.C. (1933) Pioneer health and medical practices in the old northwest prior to 1840.Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 20, 497–520.

Corradi, C. and Micheli, G. (1979) Determinazione spetteofotometrica del potere colorante,amaricante ed odoroso dello zaferano. Boll. Chim. Farm, 118, 553–562.

Culpeper, N. (1652) Quoted by Silberrad and Lyall (1909).Dawson, W.R. (1934) A Ljeechbook or Collection of Medical Recipes of the Fifteenth

Century, Macmillan, London, p. 71.Dhar, D.N. and Suri, S.C. (1974) Thin layer chromatographic detection of dyes as adulterants

in saffron.. J. Inst. Chemists (India), 46, 130–132.Dhingra, V.K., Seshadri, T.R. and Mukerjee, S.K. (1975) Minor carotenoid glycosides from

saffron (Crocus sativus). Indian J. Chem, 3, 339–341.Dioscorides (1st century CE) The Greek Herbal, Goodyer, J. (translator, 1655), Gunther,

R.T. (Ed., 1933), reprinted 1959. Hafner, New York, p. 22.Encyclopaedia Britannica (1974) Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., Chicago, IL, Macropaedia,

Vol. 9, p. 891.Encydopaedia Judaica (1973) Keter Publishing House, Jerusalem, Vol. 14, pp. 631.Fasal, P. and Wachner, G. (1933) Wein. klin. Wschr., 45, 745 Quoted by Blacow (1972).Folch Andreu, R. (1957) [A drug which is disappearing from the medical thesaurus: saffron.

An historical study.] Farmacognosia, 17, 145–224 (in Spanish).Foppen, F.H. (1971) Tables for the identification of carotenoid pigments. Chromatogr. Rev.,

14, 133–298.French Standard (1976) [Spices and Condiments. Saffron: Identification of Pigments.], NFV

32–124 (in French).Furia, T.E. and Bellanca, N. (Eds.) (1975) Fenaroli’s Handbook of Flavor Ingredients. CRC

Press, Inc., Cleveland, OH, Vol 2, p. 515.Gainer, J.W and Chisolm, G.M. (1974) Oxygen diffusion and atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis,

19, 135–138.Gerard, J. (1633) The Herbal or General History of Plants., reprinted 1975. Dover

Publications Inc., New York, p. 154.Grisolia, S. (1974) Hypoxia, saffron, and cardiovascular disease. Lancet, 2, 41–42.Guenther, E. (1952) The Essential Oils. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., New York, Vol. 6, p.

105.Hanson, N.W. (Ed.) (1973) Official, Standardised and Recommended Methods of Analysis

(2nd edn). Society for Analytical Chemistry, London, p. 674.Holkar, S.R. and Holkar, S.D. (1975) Cooking of the Maharajas. Viking Press, Inc., New

York, p. 249.Iborra, J.L., Castellar, M.R., Canovas, M. and Manjon, A. (1992) TLC preparative purification

of picrocrocin, HTCC and crocin from saffron. J. Food Sci, 57, 714–716, 731.Indian Standard (1969) Specification for Saffron. Indian Standards Institution, IS: 5453–

1969. International Standards Organization (1970) Saffron, 3rd draft proposal. ISO/TC 34/SC 7, 215E, Geneva.

International Standards Organization (1980a) Saffron: Specification. ISO 3632, Geneva.International Standards Organization (1980b) Spices and Condiments—Determination of

Cold Water Extract. ISO 941, Geneva.International Standards Organization (1990) Spices and Condiments—Saffron—Test

Methods. Draft International Standard ISO/DIS 3632–2, Geneva.Issler, O. and Schudel, P. (1963) Synthese und Markierung von Carotinen und Carotinoiden.

In K. Lang (Chairman), Carotine und Carotinoide, Symposium, WissenschaftlicheVeroffentlichungen der Deutschen Gesellschaft fur Ernahrung, Mainz, October 1961,Steinkopff Verlag, Darmstadt.

Kapur, B.M. (Ed.) (1988) Annual Report, Regional Research Laboratory, Council of Scientificand Industrial Research, Jammu, pp. 59–60.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (67)

SAFFRON CHEMISTRY 51

Khanna, S.K., Singh, G.B. and Krishnamurti, C.R. (1980) Toxicity profile of some commonlyencountered food colours. J. Food Sci. Tech. (India), 17, 95–103.

Krogh, G. and Akenstrand, K. (1980) [Saffron—authentic or adulterated?]. Var Foda, 33,346–353 (in Swedish).

Kuhn, R. and Winterstein, A. (1934) Uber the Konstitution des Pikro-crocins und seineBeziehung zu den Carotin-Farbstoffen des Safrans. Ber. dtsch. chem. Ges., 67, 344–357.

Lewis, W.H. and Elvin-Lewis, M.P.F. (1977) Medical Botany. J.Wiley & Sons, New York,pp. 325, 329.

Lowell, G. (1964) Saffron adulteration. J. Assoc. Offic. Agric. Chemists, 47, 538.Lust, J.B. (1978) The Herb Book. Bantam Books Inc., New York, p. 341.Maimonides, M. (12th century CE) On the Causes of Symptoms, Leibowitz, J.O. and Marcus,

S. (Eds.) (1974). Univ. Calif. Press, Berkeley, CA, p. 125.Melchior, H. and Kastner, H. (1974) Gewurze. Verlag Paul Parey, Berlin, pp. 147–150.Meyer, G.L. (1982) Knossus: world trade centre in saffron. Organorama, 19, 11–14.Nicholls, J.R. (1945) Aid to the Analysis of Food and Drugs (6th edn). Bailliere, Tindall

and Cox, London, p. 195.Nishio, T., Okugawa, H., Kato, A., Hashimoto, Y., Matsumoto, K. and Fujioka, A. (1987)

[Effect of crocus (Crocus sativus Linne, Iridiaceae) on blood coagulation andfibrinolysis.] Shoyakugaku Zasshi, 41, 271–276 (in Japanese, with English abstract).

Panikkar, K.R. (1990) Antitumour activity of saffron. Cancer Letters, 57, 109–114.Parry, J.W. (1962) Spices: Their Morphology, Histology and Chemistry. Chemical Publishing

Co., Inc., New York, p. 208.Parvaneh, V. (1972) A note on the assessment of purity of saffron colour. J. Assoc. Publ.

Analysts, 10, 31–32.Pfander, H. and Wittwer, F. (1975a) Untersuchungen zur Carotinoid-Zusammensetzung im

Saffran II. Helv. Chim. Acta, 58, 1608–1620.Pfander, H. and Wittwer, F. (1975b) Untersuchungen zur Carotinoid-Zusammensetzung im

Saffran III. Helv. Chim. Acta, 58, 2233–2236.Pliny (the Elder) (1st century CE) Natural History. Bostock, J. and Riley, H.T. (trans.)

(1887), Bohn, London.Rietz, C.A. (1961) A Guide to the Selection, Combination and Cooking of Foods. Avi

Publishing Company, Inc., Westport, CT, Vol. 1, p. 314.Sampathu, S.R., Shivashankar, S. and Lewis, Y.S. (1984) Saffron (Crocus sativus Linn.)—

cultivation, processing, chemistry and standardization. CRC Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr.,20, 123–157.

Sastry, L.V. L., Srinivasan, M. and Subrahmanyan, V. (1955) Saffron (Crocus sativus Linn.)Sci. Ind. Res. (India), 14-A, 178–184.

Sexton, W.A. (1950) Chemical Constitution and Biological Activity. Van Nostrand CompanyInc., New York, p. 243.

Silberrad, U. and Lyall, S. (1909) Dutch Bulbs and Gardens. Adam and Charles Black,London, p. 38.

Skrubis, B. (1990) The cultivation in Greece of Crocus sativus L. In F.Tammaro and L.Marra(Eds.),.Lo Zafferano. Proc. Internat. Conf. on Saffron, L’Aquila, Italy, Università DellaStudi L’Aquila e Accademia Italiana delli Cucina, L’Aquila, pp. 171–182.

Solinas, M. and Cichelli, A. (1988) [Verification of saffron quality and genuinenesscharacteristics by HPLC analysis of colour and flavour components.] IndustrieAlimentari, 27, 634–639, 648 (in Italian, with English summary).

Stahl, E. and Wagner, C. (1969) TAS-method for the microanalysis of important constituentsof saffron./. Chromatog., 40, 308.

Stecher, P.G. (Ed.) (1968) The Merck Index (8th edn). Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, NJ, pp.928, 831.

Stevens, S.D. and Klarner, A. (1990) Deadly Doses. Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, OH.Triebold, H.O. and Aurand, L.W. (1963) Food Composition and Analysis, Van Nostrand

Company, Inc., Princeton, NJ, p. 463.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (68)

D.BASKER52

Warren, C.P.W. (1970) Some aspects of medicine in the Greek Bronze Age. Med. Hist., 14,364–377.

Zarghami, N.S. (1970) The Volatik Constituents of Saffron (Crocus sativus L.). Ph.D Thesis,Univ. Calif. Davis, pp. 83.

Zarghami, N.S. and Heinz, D.E. (1971) Monoterpene aldehydes and isophorone-relatedcompounds of saffron. Phytochemistry, 10, 2755–2761.

Zechmeister, L. (1962) Cis-trans Isomeric Carotenoids Vitamins A and Arylpolyenes.Springer-Verlag, Vienna, pp. 102, 3, 114.

Zweig, G. and Sherma, J. (Eds.) (1972) Handbook of Chromatography. CRC Press,Cleveland, OH, Vol. 1, pp. 540.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (69)

53

5. SAFFRON (CROCUS SATIVUS L.) IN ITALY

FERNANDO TAMMARO

Department of Environmental Sciences, University of L’Aquila,Via Vetoio, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy

ABSTRACT In Piano di Navelli (L’Aquila region, Central Italy), saffron is cultivatedin annual cycles. There has been a great decrease in saffron production in thisregion over the past few years. Nevertheless, it represents a remarkable incomefor some farmers in this mountainous area with a poor economy. This arid area isatypical for saffron cultivation, but the unique annual cultivation results in therecognized superior quality of its saffron in the marketplace. This chapter describesthe major aspects of saffron production in this region.

INTRODUCTION

According to tradition, a certain monk from Navelli (L’Aquila, Central Italy), onhis return from Spain some time during the 15th century, adapted Spanishcultivation practices to the climate and soil of his village, in particular thedevelopment of cultivation in annual cycles. It is this practice, particular to Navelliand the Aquila area, that differs from those used in other countries (Spain, Greece,India, Sardinia, etc.) where the saffron plants are left in the soil from three to eightyears (pluriannual cultivation) (Tammaro 1990). In this way, saffron cultivationwhich was well known among the ancient Roman people, but forgotten duringthe medieval age, was reintroduced in Italy.

Every year in Navelli the corms are taken up at the beginning of the summerand replanted at the end of August, after they have been selected for size andchecked for possible defects (rot, parasites, viruses, etc.). The continual selectionfor size and checks for wholesomeness mean that every year only the best plantsare replanted, and as a result only the highest morphological and phytochemicalcharacteristics are conserved. This is why L’Aquila saffron is the most sought-after and most highly prized in the world.

It is interesting to note that during the last century in the L’Aquila area, experimentsin pluriannual cultivation were carried out (the saffron was kept in the soil for threeconsecutive years). The pluriannual saffron plants were attacked earlier and moreseverely by root rot every year, promoting the resumption of annual cultivation.

At present, saffron in Italy is cultivated mostly in the highlands of Navelli, nearL’Aquila (Central Italy); a few cultures can be found in Sardinia, Cagliari Province(Picci 1987) and in the Val di Taro, Parma Province (Zanzucchi 1987). In the past,saffron was widespread in many regions of Central and Southern Italy (Tuscany,Campania, Sicily, etc.), where it is no longer cultivated1 for social (neglectedcounties), economic (low income) and biological (corm parasites) reasons.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (70)

F.TAMMARO54

Nowadays (1992–1995), the saffron cultivation area in Italy covers about 10 ha,much less than in the past (about 1000 ha). The total production (1994–1995) ofdried saffron is about 70–80 kg, that of corms 18 tons. The price of dried stigmasreached US$4 per g. However, the saffron is packaged in small, artistic ceramicvases, and then sold at a price of about US$ 10 for 1.5 g. For the small number ofsaffron cultivators (about 100 people), these prices represent a remarkable income:the cultivators are located in sub-mountain areas with a poor economy.

Biological Cycle

The saffron plant is characterized by a biological cycle with a long pause in thesummer and an active growth period in the autumn (also the period during whichthe flowers blossom). There is also short growth period in the spring and an evenshorter one in the winter.

In fact the plant survives the summer season by losing its leaves and existing asa corm in a state of hibernation. After the summer, the plant again enters a periodof vegetative growth with the emission of a tuft of leaves and the emergence of thefloral axis wrapped in whitish sheaths.

Flowering takes place in the autumn, from the end of October to the middle ofNovember. The flowers are made up of six mauve petals from which a scarletstigma arises, which subdivides into three branches, each of which terminates in atube. The stigma is connected to the ovary by a long style. The leaves, which growup to 40 cm in length, are produced from September to May. It is in this sameautumn—winter—spring period that root growth occurs, with reabsorption ofthe mother corm and production and growth of the daughter corms. Each newlyformed corm, contained within the tunic of the corm which produced it, has oneor two principal buds at its apex (from which new leaves, floral axis and one ortwo daughter corms are produced) and in the lower portion, four to five secondarybuds, placed irregularly in a spir 1 form. The secondary buds produce a caulineaxis and a tuft of leaves which draw nutrients through photosynthesis and grow.Corms derived from secondary buds are smaller (1/4–1/6) than the apical ones.Consequently, each mother corm produces two to three principal corms fromapical buds and several corms from lateral buds. Saffron is a sterile species whichexhibits effective vegetative reproduction.

Cultivated Area

L’Aquila saffron is cultivated in an atypical area considering the bio-ecologicalcharacteristics of the plant, almost at its ecological limits. In fact cultivation in Navellitakes place in a sub-mountainous area (plantations are between 650 and 1100 mabove sea level), the highest area in the Mediterranean where saffron is cultivated,with an annual rainfall of about 700 mm, of which 40 mm falls in the summer.

In other saffron growing areas in the Mediterranean precipitation is lower; forexample, in Greece at Kozani (Macedonia), annual rainfall is 560 mm, of which25 to 40 mm fall in the summer; Spain (La Mancha and Castile) 250 to 500 mm,20 to 30 mm in the summer; Sardinia (S.Gavino, Monreale) 300 to 600 mm, 20 to40 mm in the summer.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (71)

SAFFRON IN ITALY 55

Average annual temperatures in Navelli are also lower at 11.3°C, winter 2–5°C, summer 20–22°C; Kozani, about 12.5°C, winter 2–5°C, summer 23°C; LaMancha and Castile, 16–20°C, winter 5–7°C, summer 25°C; Sardinia, 16–20°C,winter 10°C, summer 25°C. The average summer temperature in Navelli neverrises above 20–22°C, as compared to 25–30°C in the saffron growing areas inSpain and other parts of the Mediterranean. The xeric period in Navelli is limitedto August; no xeric periods are recorded for other seasons. From December toJanuary the average minimum temperature shows a negative value. Snow covercan last up to 30 days. Navelli saffron survives low winter temperatures withoutdamage. However, heavy snowfall can damage the plants, especially if they are inflower: the flower freezes and decomposes and the corm splits and rots.

The environmental summer conditions (temperate-humid) in Navelli are largelyresponsible for cryptogamic attacks. In fact, the moisture and temperature values,especially those of the summer, create ideal conditions for the rapid development andspread of parasitic fungi (rot, decay, Fusarium). Massive attacks of parasitic fungi arerecorded in the saffron plantations in Navelli when the spring is hot and rainy.

From observations, we have established that the critical temperature is theaverage March-April temperature of around 10–12°C (normal seasonaltemperature being 6–9°C) accompanied by precipitation or dew. Under theseclimatic conditions, it is expedient to treat the soil or foliage with anti-fungalagents in order to save at least the daughter corms.

In Mediterranean areas characterized by a hot, dry summer climate, pluriannualcultivation of saffron is possible, particularly because the corms are not subject todevastating parasite attacks (hot, dry climates inhibit the reproduction and spreadof parasitic fungi, mostly due to lack of water). Annual cultivation in the Navelliarea consequently represents a strategy developed over the centuries so that thecultivation of saffron can continue in a sub-mountainous rainy environment atthe ecological limits for this Mediterranean sub-desert plant.

The soil in the area under cultivation is a medium humus-clay, which guaranteesgood water storage, whereas the high sand content allows drainage and aeration.The active limestone content is good, organic substances high, phosphates lowand potassium optimal.

PRINCIPAL AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES

Soil Preparation

Preceding the planting of corms, the soil is ploughed to a depth of about 30 cmand left to rest for a period from a few weeks to the whole winter. The cultivatedarea is divided up into plots of about 1000 square metres (20×40–50 m). A ridginghoe is used to prepare the bed; four parallel furrows, 2 by 2, are cut to a depth ofabout 10 cm for a length of 10–15 cm.

The corms are placed or lightly driven into place with the apex uppermost,generally in contact with one another (for more details see the section Plantingout, below). They are then covered with the soil from the next furrow in line, to

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (72)

F.TAMMARO56

form a mound of about 10 cm in height. Four furrows make up a bed, locallycalled a patch. Each patch is about 80 cm wide, slightly raised to a height of 10–15 cm and about 50 cm long. The patches are separated from each other by afurrow, about 30 cm wide, which serves to give access for cultivation and aboveall acts as a drainage ditch.

Fertilizing

The soil in Navelli is fertilized with mature horse or cow manure (about 30 tons/ha).Contrary to cultivation practices in Spain and Greece, no mineral fertilizerswhatsoever are used in Navelli. In Borgo Val di Taro (Parma), small saffronplantations have been planted and fertilized with both mineral fertilizers and manure.

Corm Harvesting

During June and July, the corms are dug up with a hoe, taken under cover andkept for a few weeks in hemp sacks. Before being replanted they are laid out on acanvas for individual examination and selection, based on the elimination of cormswith cuts or marks and especially those with rot or parasites. The external tunics(2–3 layers) are then cleaned off, leaving only the interior tunic on each corm. Theresidual roots, in the form of a blackish-brown flattened disk, the residue of theprevious year’s corm, are then removed, as they can be the cause of fungal attacks.

Selection is based primarily on diameter and weight and only corms with adiameter larger than 2.5 cm are used; corms with too small a diameter are used asfodder (pigs, cattle). However, these should not be destroyed, as they can be plantedin nursery beds, until their offspring reach the critical flowering size (diameter 2.5cm) in subsequent years.

Planting Out

Corms in Navelli are not subjected to disinfection. Experience gained in Val diTaro (Parma) has shown that it is advisable to treat the corm, in order to inhibitthe spread of disease, by immersion in a benomyl-based fungicide (5–10 mg per1000 ml). In Spain and India, a solution consisting of 5% copper sulfate is used.

The planting period is the second fortnight in August (in Spain from 15–30June; in Greece before the middle of September; in India from the middle of July tothe end of August).

The preferred planting order in Navelli is four rows (two by two) per patch. Ineach row the corms are either in contact with each other or at a distance of 1–1.5cm, with a planting depth of 8–10 cm. When the corms are planted to less thanthis depth the roots become large and fleshy (contractile roots), in which case thedaughter corm does not grow, as the reserve material is stored in these roots andthe mother corm is almost totally consumed by them. Contractile roots are alsoformed when the corms are disturbed during development by other factors(overcrowded planting, lacerations, etc.).

Tests have shown that the best yields—flower and corm production—areobtained by leaving a space of 2–3 cm between each corm in the furrow. Theoptimal quantity per hectare is 13–15 tons; that is about 600–700 thousand corms

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (73)

SAFFRON IN ITALY 57

with an average weight of 20–22 g each (45–48 corms per kg). A hectolitre weightof 50–60 kg is equal to 2500 to 2700 corms. Therefore, about 1.3 tons of corms,that is 59–62 thousand pieces, are needed to plant an area of 1000 square metres(manual planting). Recently, experiments have been carried out using agriculturalmachinery similar to a modified potato planter (Galigani 1987, Galigani andGarbati Pegna, this volume).

Irrigation

Irrigation is not necessary in Navelli.

Weed Control

The saffron plantations in Navelli are infested with wild cereals which do not competewith saffron plants, because they are less developed during the period when thesaffron plant is at anthesis (autumn) or at maximum growth (spring). As a result, noweed control is necessary. In fact the weeds are left to grow until the end of May,when they are cut together with the saffron leaves and used for cattle feed.

Production of hay is on the order of 60–80 kg/ha. The dry saffron leaves contain12.12% nitrogenous substances and numerous mineral elements (about 7%) andhave, therefore, good nutritive value. Their use as feed for cows and sheep resultsin increased milk production.

Flowering and Harvesting

Flowering occurs in autumn, about 40 days after planting, and lasts for about 3weeks, from the middle of October to the 7th (10th) of November. A cold andsnowy period, as well as late planting, can retard anthesis until after the middle ofNovember. During anthesis, the highest concentration of flowers—over 60% ofthe plants in flower at the same time—occurs in the last 10 days of October. TheSpanish call this period “the day of mantle”, that is, the period during which thegreatest expulsion of anthesis occurs, and the countryside becomes as thougharrayed in a mantle of flowers.

The flowers are harvested manually. The picker moves between the patchespicking the two rows to his left and the two rows to his right alternately. Theflower is harvested by taking it between the thumb and the index finger of onehand and cutting it with the nail. The cut flowers are placed in a wicker basket toprevent them from being pressed together. The baskets are taken under cover andemptied onto a wooden table; “peeling” begins the same morning, i.e. the flowersare opened and the stigma is separated out.

It is impossible to mechanize this operation because flowering takes placecontemporaneously with leaf growth and mechanized harvesting would involved cuttingthe leaves. As a result, the formation of daughter corms would not take place.

The flowers are picked early in the morning, while the flower is still closed,before the corolla opens. In this state the flower is quicker to pick and consequentlyeasier and quicker to open for the removal of the stigma. Because the flowers haveto be picked while they are still closed, working hours in the fields are limited to2–3 hours in the morning. However, as many people as possible are needed duringthis phase in order to finish the work as soon as possible, because when the flowers

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (74)

F.TAMMARO58

open (opening occurs after sunrise when the soil heats up), according to localtradition, stigmas are considered to be of inferior quality. Stamens and antherswhich are full of pollen are not picked; in Spain on the other hand, these arepicked for their carotene and xanthophyll content.

Flower Production and Yield

Flower production in Navelli depends primarily on seasonal climatic conditionsand on parasite attacks (rot, virus, etc.). A hectare of saffron plants yields 4–5tons of fresh flowers; about 75 kg of fresh flowers are needed for 1 kg of freshstigmas. The average weight of fresh stigmas from 100 flowers is 3.47 g and averagedry weight is 0.69 g. The average weight of each flower is 0.3–0.5 g, each freshstigma 30–40 mg, and each dry stigma 7–7.4 mg. There is a weight loss of 4/5during the toasting process, and thus 1400 to 1500 flowers are needed to obtain 1g of dry stigmas (the marketable product).

The average yield of the dry product per hectare is 10–16 kg. The saffronplantations in Navelli have the highest recorded production per hectare in theworld. The yield of dried stigma filaments (kg/ha) elsewhere is 6–29 for Albacete(Spain), 4–7 for Krokos (Greece) and 1.8–6.8 for India.

Drying and Storing Methods

Separation of the stigma from the flower, called “stripping” or “peeling”, is done byhand and carried out immediately after the flowers have been picked. The flowers(tepals) are opened and the stigma is cut with the fingers at the point where it dividesinto the three stigmatic branches, avoiding, as much as possible, any part of theyellowish style, as this lowers the quality of the product. The stigmas are laid on asieve and placed about 20 cm above live oak-wood charcoal to dry. The sieve isconnected by three ropes to a single support point, thus ensuring perfect roasting.Halfway through roasting the stigmas are turned over to ensure uniform drying.Roasting lasts for 15–20 min and drying is complete when the stigmas do not crumbleand still possess a certain amount of elasticity when pressed between the fingers.Saffron dried over charcoal retains its purplish-red colour, its fragrance and its aroma.Results of trials carried out in electric drying ovens confirm that stigmas roasted in thetraditional way over charcoal maintain their organoleptic qualities better (Zanzucchi1987). During roasting, the stigmas lose 4/5 of their weight: 500 g of fresh stigmasyield only 100 g of dry stigmas. The final product retains 5–20% humidity. The driedstigmas are reduced to a powder by grinding in an electric coffee grinder. In a humidenvironment, saffron in filaments or powdered form is extremely hygroscopic andhighly susceptible to fermentative processes, resulting in a change of colour and anunpleasant odour. It is therefore kept in well-sealed, coloured-glass jars (without rubberstoppers) or in canvas bags, and stored in a dry place.

Crop Rotation

The cultivation of saffron is never carried out on the same plot within at least 10years of the previous saffron crop. In some cases where this custom has not been

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (75)

SAFFRON IN ITALY 59

respected, a decrease in production was observed, with an increase in the numberof weeds attributable to the previous saffron crop. Saffron crops are rotated withlucerne and wheat.

Pests and Diseases

The saffron plantations in Navelli are subject to adverse climatic conditions whichcause damage to the part of the plant which is above ground, and to attacks byrodents (moles and mice) which damage the corms. The most ruinous diseases,however, are of fungal origin.

In the Navelli area, a mycosis produced by Penicillium cyclopium is particularlyprevalent, causing mauve-coloured rot as a result of insect attacks. It is at its mostvirulent during the hot, humid season. In the past 15 years, the plantations havebeen attacked by an alarming disease which causes abnormal leaf growth (up to50 cm) and overdevelopment of the floral sheath. The plant becomes thin andwhite as the sheath forms a sleeve, which prevents the leaves and flowers fromemerging, even though they are perfectly formed. The corm cells deliquesce andthe corm gradually dissolves. Plants attacked by this disease are called “littlecandles” by the growers. The pathogenic agent appears to be Fusarium, amicroscopic fungus producing gibberellin, which causes abnormal growth of theleaves and sheaths. This parasitosis is also more prevalent during the hot rainyseason, reducing flowering by 10 to 30%. Where plants are left in the soil for twoyears, the disease reaches 45%. This is yet another reason why pluriannualcultivation is not feasible in Navelli.

USES

At present saffron is used mainly in the liqueur industry (aperitifs, bitter, vermouth)and in the confectionery industry, for the colouring and flavouring qualities of itsactive components. In the food industry and in cooking it is used as a colouringfor pasta and cheese, and in the preparation of regional specialities (risotto allamilanese, paella valencians, etc.). In the Navelli area it is used in cooking, sold byherbalists and grocers, and used in the preparation of local liqueur.

QUANTITY, ACREAGE AND PRICES

Over the centuries and until 40 years ago, Navelli saffron was cultivated over aremarkably large surface area. At the beginning of the 20th century more than450 ha were under cultivation, producing 4.6 tons, and in some years the cultivationarea exceeded 1000 ha, extending into other Abruzzo valleys (Sulmona, Marsica).For inland Abruzzo, saffron was an authentic and economic source of wealth; forexample, the prices quoted for saffron in the 15th and 16th centuries were higherthan per equal weight of silver, and saffron fields were therefore considered to be

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (76)

F.TAMMARO60

more remunerative than silver mines. Even in the 20th century, up to the 1960s,the area under cultivation was on the order of 180–200 ha, producing 2 tons.

In the past 30 years, however, the area under cultivation at Navelli has beenheavily reduced, due to socioeconomic factors (population shift from thecountryside, an increase in service industries, etc.) reaching an all-time low in1976 of 3.5 ha, and producing only 20 kg of saffron. In the past few years therehas been a revival in cultivation, with production reaching 40 kg of dry saffronfrom 1985–1987 (cultivation area 6 ha), and in 1988–1995, production exceeded80 kg from an area of around 8–9 ha.

Both the surface cultivated and the production of dry stigmas are modest ascompared to Spain (2864 ha; 12.9 tons in 1983) and Greece (860 ha; 3.7 tons in1988). However, even though the quantity of saffron produced in Navelli is small,it merits the highest consideration, because of the bioagronomic characteristics ofits germplasm, its outstanding organoleptic qualities for cooking and foodpreparation, and the fact that it represents a source of income for the few remainingsaffron growers at Piano di Navelli. Throughout history, Navelli saffron hasovercome crises in production of a far more serious nature than any known today(in 1646, during the Spanish domination, production almost ceased and only threepounds were produced vs. 12 thousand, 200 years earlier. This was because adecree issued by the viceroy gave foreign buyers the exclusive right to set prices).

Techniques of in vitro culture and other innovative methods presently understudy (elimination of sterility, hybridization) offer a realistic possibility of therevitalization of saffron cultivation in Navelli. The main purpose of these studiesis to make sufficient material available for planting, in particular in view of theinterest shown in saffron cultivation by the young, who find it impossible at presentto cultivate the plant due to lack of corms.

L’AQUILA SAFFRON: A TYPICAL ITALIAN PRODUCT

Measurements and statistical biometric comparisons have been made betweenL’Aquila saffron and that of Krokos (Greece), Pozo Hondo (Spain) and S.Gavino(Cagliari, Sardinia), and an F test (variance analysis) was carried out. Taking intoaccount the significant differences derived from the statistical analysis of theprincipal characteristics, the high annual yield of stigmas per hectare, their strongcolouring power and high safranin content, saffron plants from Navelli (L’Aquila)differ from those cultivated in Spain and Greece. They represent a typical Abruzzoand Italian cultivar which is characterized by the weight of the corm (22.9 g), itsdiameter (3.23 cm), the annual spice yield (10–12 to 16 kg dry stigmas/ha), andtheir high safranal content (4%).

This is why we have classified Navelli saffron as Crocus sativus L.cultivar Pianodi Navelli—L’Aquila, in honour of the city and district which for five centuries hasbeen the home of saffron cultivation in Italy. This classification guarantees a marketfor Navelli saffron. Recently (Tammaro 1994), the saffron from Navelli (L’Aquila)was recognized as a typical regional product of the European Community (EC)and a logo for the product’s preservation is being designed.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (77)

SAFFRON IN ITALY 61

The above cultivation, in fact, fits the criteria of the European EconomicCommunity (EEC) n. 2081 and 2082 (July 14 1992) rules, i.e.:

(a) strong presence in local historic culture (tradition, local uses and holidays);(b) a typical geographical localization of production;(c) high organoleptic quality of the product;(d) production techniques belonging to an exclusive typology.

At present, saffron in Italy shows little economic value due to the scarce harvest.On the other hand, it is of great scientific importance since it represents a typicalItalian cultivar, which has been selected for over the past 500 years. Moreover,saffron is remarkable for the rural tradition of Southern Italy, especially the AbruzzoRegion, which has based a certain amount of its economy on this plant for thepast few centuries.

REFERENCES

Galigani, P. (1987) La meccanizzazione delle colture di salvia, lavanda, zafferano e genziana.In A. Bezzi (ed.), Atti Convegno sulla coltivazione delle piante officinali., 9–10 ottobre,Istituto Sperimentale per l’Assestamento Forestale e per l’Alpicoltura, Villazzano(Trento), pp. 221–234.

Picci, V. (1987) Sintesi sulle esperienze di coltivazione di Crocus sativus L. in Italia. InA.Bezzi (ed.), Atti Convegno sulla coltivazione delle piante officinali, 9–10 ottobre,Istituto Sperimentale per l’Assestamento Forestale e per l’Alpicoltura, Villazzano(Trento), pp. 119–157.

Tammaro, F. (1990) Crocus sativus L. cv. Piano di Navelli (L’Aquila saffron): environment,cultivation, morphometric characteristics, active principles, uses. In F.Tammaro andL.Marra (eds.), Proceedings of the International Conference on saffron (Crocus sativusL.), L’Aquila 27–29 October 1989, Università degli Studi L’Aquila and AccademiaItaliana della Cucina, L’Aquila, pp. 47–98.

Tammaro, F. (1994) Lo zafferano di Navelli (Crocus sativus L.). Programma di IniziativaComunitaria LEADER 1 (U.E.), L’Aquila (Italy), 1–44.

Zanzucchi, C. (1987) La ricerca dal Consorzio Comunalie parmensi sulla zafferano (Crocussativus L.). In A.Bezzi (ed.), Atti Convegno sulla coltivazione delle piante officinali, 9–10 ottobre, Istituto Sperimentale per l’Assestamento Forestale e per l’Alpicoltura,Villazzano (Trento), pp. 347–395.

ENDNOTES

1. According to Galigani and Garbati Pegna (this volume), saffron was recentlyreintroduced to San Giminiano (Tuscany).

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (78)

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (79)

63

6. SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN AZERBAIJAN

N.SH.AZIZBEKOVA1 and E.L.MILYAEVA2

1Plant Science Department, University of British Columbia,#344–2357 Main Hall, Vancouver, B.C, V6T1Z4, Canada

2Timiryazev Institute of Plant Physiology, Russian Academy of Sciences,Botanicheskaya Street 35, Moscow, 127276 Russia

ABSTRACT Crocus sativus (saffron) has been cultivated in Azerbaijan for centuries.Its distribution, adaptation and cultural practices there are discussed. Saffronontogenesis, with special reference to the morphological state of the cells andnuclei in the stem apex, is detailed. Stem-apex development in saffron followed aseasonal pattern: (1) formation of stem-apex of the daughter corm in November,(2) slow development of stem-apex of the daughter corm coinciding with intensiveplant vegetative growth of the maternal corm in December—February, (3) transitionof stem-apex of the daughter corm to generative development when the vegetativeorgans begin to dry up in March, and (4) differentiation of generative organswhen the corms are underground and other vegetative organs are almost fullyabsent in June—August. The treatment of saffron corms with gibberellin promotedthe formation of flower buds from undifferentiated meristems, thereby increasingstigma yield. The best results were obtained when the corms were soaked ingibberellin in July.

DISTRIBUTION AND ADAPTATION

Azerbaijan is one of the oldest centres of saffron (Crocus sativus) in the world.According to written testimonies, saffron was cultivated in some regions of Azerbaijanmore than a thousand years ago (Askerov 1934), the practice having been introducedfrom Asia Minor and Persia. However, a more precise date for the appearance ofsaffron cultivation in Azerbaijan has not been determined. Saffron escapes havebeen found in the foothills of the main Caucasian mountain range in the Cubinsky,Shamakhinsky and Gueokchaiksy regions in Azerbaijan (Grossheim 1940).

At the time of the Roman Empire, saffron from Asia Minor and central Asiawas introduced to Spain, and from there to the south of France. After the Crusades,its cultivation began in Germany, Austria and Moravia. However, saffron cultivatedin northern regions is characterized by its lower quality relative to that cultivatedin areas similar to its native land. The best saffron, possessing the most powerfularoma, is cultivated in Spain, Iran and Azerbaijan.

In Azerbaijan, saffron is cultivated on the sandy Apsheron peninsula near thecity of Baku. In the past, this culture existed in Mashtagy, Bylgya, Kurdakhany,Nardaran and other settlements. There the choicest saffron was grown, with qualitycharacteristics matching those of Persian and Spanish saffron. Before 1917, the

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (80)

N.SH.AZIZBEKOVA AND E.L.MILYAEVA64

areas occupied by cultivation amounted to 150 ha, and saffron export affordedAzerbaijan a significant place in the international market (Gurvich and Zadulina1939). Under Soviet rule the areas devoted to saffron cultivation in Azerbaijangrew 4.5-fold, and in the Bylgya settlement, near Baku, a specialized saffron statefarm was established.

The climate in the Apsheron peninsula is particularly favourable for saffron,being subtropical, characterized by dry and warm autumn months: the maximum,minimum and average annual air temperatures are 33.2°C, –5.9°C, and 14.4°C,respectively.

Saffron in Azerbaijan flowers in autumn—in October–November. The mostinfluential factor in its successful cultivation is atmospheric humidity, particularlyduring flowering. The average precipitation on the Apsheron peninsula is up to223 mm per annum, with 72% relative humidity, an atmospheric pressure of 648mm Hg, and an average annual temperature of the sea-water surrounding thepeninsula of 15.2°C. During the saffron flowering period, the weather is usuallywarm and dry: in August precipitation averages 7 mm, relative humidity is 64%,atmospheric pressure is 607 mm Hg, and the sea-water temperature is 25.8°C; inSeptember, average rainfall increases two-fold, relative humidity is 68%,atmospheric pressure is 643 mm Hg, and the sea-water temperature is 22.9°C; inOctober, rainfall is higher still (27 mm), relative humidity is 75%, atmosphericpressure is 678 mm Hg, and the sea-water temperature is 18.3°C (Kadymov 1940).

Saffron is quite fastidious in its soil requirements. The soil needs to be light andfriable, with high nutrient content. On the Apsheron peninsula there are chestnutand shined-chestnut in the foothills and loamy sandy soil near Baku. Saffron can becultivated practically anywhere in the peninsula, except in areas with gravele-clayeysoil, where poor drainage may lead to corm decay. Such conditions may occur, forinstance, in Mashtagy saffron plantations where middle loam, containing 1:1.8:1.25clayey particles/sandy-dust/sand, dominates. The amount of humus in this light soilis not high—from 0.5% (at a depth of 0–15 cm) (Kylany 1979). As a result, organicfertilizers (manure) are added to fields intended for saffron cultivation. However,insufficiently fermented fresh manure causes corm decay. Fresh manure is thereforeadded to one of the grain cultures, wheat or barley, preceding saffron.

A unique aspect of saffron cultivation on the Apsheron peninsula is the absenceof precise intervals between crops in crop rotation: as a rule, saffron is grown inthe same area for 3 to 5 years. A field intended for corm planting is carefullyploughed in the autumn to a depth of 50 cm, cleared of weeds, and treated withmanure; again, in the summer, it is cleared of weeds, harrowed and treated oncemore with manure, at which point the corms can be planted.

When saffron is cultivated in lowland areas, wind-barriers are necessary, usuallyconsisting of camel’s-thorn (Alhagi camelorum L.). Saffron plantations on hillyterrain need to be situated on the southern, eastern or western slopes, which areprotected from the winds.

The corms are dug up from the old growing area in the summer months, fromJuly to August. Before planting, corms are kept in heaps or split into layers, stored,and cleaned; sick and decaying specimens are discarded. Corms grown under

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (81)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN AZERBAIJAN 65

optimal conditions have a flattened-globous shape, an average weight of 8–10 g,and a shiny-cream colour; they are covered with golden-rose tunics, above whichthere are rough, stringy, dark-brown external tunics.

The corms are planted in 8-m long rows. The furrows are 30 cm deep, 60 cmapart, and the distance between corms is 10 cm. Post-planting consists of weedingand crumbling.

ORGANOGENESIS

Saffron has a unique life cycle. It belongs to the group of ephemeral geophytes:flowering occurs in autumn, at the end of October to the beginning of November(Azizbekova and Milyaeva 1978). Upon completion of flowering, a small daughtercorm is formed at the base of the main maternal-corm shoot (Figure 6.1). Moredaughter corms are formed at the bases of side shoots sprouting on the maternalcorm. During this period, intensive growth of leaves and roots occurs, attainingtheir maximal development during the winter months (December–February). Thematernal corm gradually dries up and dies concomitant with the intensive growthand development of the daughter corms during this period. The leaves, root systemand maternal corm begin to dry up gradually at the end of March. The concealed,underground period in the life of corms occurs from May through August, inasmuchas leaves and roots are totally lacking. The central bud of the corm is induced intogrowth by the increased moisture and reduced temperatures in August–September,and root primordia appear at the base of the (new) maternal corm.

Thus, the ontogeny of the saffron crocus can be divided into three major periods:flowering, vegetative growth, and summer “dormancy”. In a previous study we

Figure 6.1 Ontogenesis of Crocus sativus plants (upper line) and the changes in the stem apices of theirbuds (lower line).

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (82)

N.SH.AZIZBEKOVA AND E.L.MILYAEVA66

showed that changes in the physiological state of the stem-apex meristem occur inconjunction with these periods (Azizbekova 1978). During the first month ofdaughter-corm formation, in November, the stem-apex meristem is small andslightly convex. The cells and nuclei are at their smallest relative to the othermonths (Figure 6.2a, Table 6.1) (Milyaeva and Azizbekova 1978). Staining withSchif’s reagent gives the nuclei a dense, brightly stained appearance (Figure 6.3a),The mitotic index at this time is equal to 4.8 (Figure 6.4a). Figure 6.5 representshistograms of nuclear distribution with a DNA content of 2C–4C. In November,75% of the nuclei contain 30 to 50 arbitrary units of DNA, corresponding to the2C state. This means that a high percentage of nuclei are in the G1 phase of the cellcycle during this period.

Insignificant changes are discernible on longitudinal sections of apices duringthe next ontogenetic period (from January through February): the apex changesits configuration slightly, leaf primordia protrude (Figures 6.2b and 6.2c), and themitotic index increases slightly (Figure 6.4a). The dimensions of the cells and nucleiundergo virtually no changes (Figures 6.3b and 6.3c, Table 6.1). The histogram(Figures 6.5b and 6.5c) reveals a slight increase in the number of nuclei withintermediate DNA content (49–50 arbitrary units) during this period. Thus weassume that some nuclei pass from the G1 phase to the S phase of the cell cycle.

A sharp change in all of the nuclei studied is observed in March. Apex sizeincreases abruptly, where the intensive establishment and growth of leaf primordia

Figure 6.2 Longitudinal sections through saffron stem apices at different developmental stages: (a) inNovember; (b) in January; (c) in February, (d) in March; (e) in May; and (f) in June. Magnification×200.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (83)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN AZERBAIJAN 67

proceeds, and the laying down of generative primordia begins (Figure 6.4a).Dimensions of cell (Figure 6.2a) and nuclei (Table 6.1, Figure 6.3b) also increase.As can be seen from the histogram (Figure 6.5d), a large percentage of nuclei passover into the G2 phase of the cell cycle.

Table 6.1 Changes in nuclear dimensions during the course of stem-apex differentiation in Crocussativus (in arbitrary units)

Figure 6.3 Micrographs of nuclei in the cells of saffron stem apices at different developmental stages:(a) in November; (b) in January; (c) in February; (d) in March; and (e) in May. Magnification×900.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (84)

N.SH.AZIZBEKOVA AND E.L.MILYAEVA68

Apex differentiation progresses further in May-July, during which time intensivelaying down of generative organs occurs (Figures 6.2e and 6.2f). The mitotic indexdecreases during this period, and stabilizes at a constant level at the beginning ofJune (Figure 6.4a). The number of cells in the G1 phase declines relative to March(compare Figures 6.5d-6.5g), whereas the number of cells in the G2 phase rises,then remains virtually unchanged from May through June, matching the constantmitotic-index value from May to June. Nuclear dimensions increase still further,as compared to March, during this period of intensive creation of generative organs(Figure 6.3a, Table 6.1).

The stem apices undergo continuous structural and cytophysiological changesduring ontogenesis of Crocus sativus. During the period of stem—meristemestablishment, most of the cells and nuclei are small, brightly staining and in theG1 phase. The remaining nuclei are in the S and G2 phases. Cellular and nucleardimensions increase during the period of generative organ formation from Aprilthrough June, whereas mitotic activity decreases slightly, and most nuclei passover into the G2 phase. Therefore, the flowering of the maternal corm coincideswith the formation of daughter corm(s) during November; vegetative growth of

Figure 6.4 The mitotic index (a) and the distribution of nuclei in the G1 phase of the cell cycle (b) insaffron stem apices at different stages of development.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (85)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN AZERBAIJAN 69

the leaves and roots of the maternal corm coincides with the slow development ofthe stem-apex of the daughter corm (December-February). On the other hand, thegradual senescence of leaves, roots and the maternal corm coincides with stem-apex transition to generative development (March). Intensive differentiation offlower organs occurs when daughter corms are “dormant” (June-August).

THE BENEFITS OF GROWTH REGULATORS

Exogenuously applied growth regulators (gibberellin and kinetin) have beeninvestigated in Crocus sativus in relation to floral development. One of the most

Figure 6.5 Histograms of the distribution of nuclei with a DNA content of 2C-4C (given in arbitraryunits) during stem-apex development: (a) in November; (b) in January, (c) in February, (d) in March; (e)in May; (f) in June; and (g) in July.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (86)

N.SH.AZIZBEKOVA AND E.L.MILYAEVA70

Figure 6.6 Influence of gibberellin and kinetin on growth and flower number of saffron: (a) length offlower tube, (b) length of leaves, (c) length of roots, and (d) number of flowers.

Figure 6.7 Flowering saffron plants in an experiment conducted in Bylgya. Plants after treating cormswith gibberellin (left) and control (right).

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (87)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN AZERBAIJAN 71

important factors in such study is the precise physiological stage of plantdevelopment at the time of growth-regulator application.

Saffron corms were soaked in a solution of gibberellin in February (before theapex had differentiated generative tissue), in March (during the transition fromvegetative to reproductive) and in June (when the floral organs are present)(Azizbekova et al. 1978). The most positive results stemmed from a June-Julytreatment of gibberellin+kinetin, when corms were dormant and underground(Figure 6.6). Treating dry saffron corms with growth regulators in June–Julypromoted the formation of additional flower buds from undifferentiated meristem(Figure 6.7). This led to the accelerated formation of more flowers, which in turnincreased saffron yield.

REFERENCES

Askerov, A. (1934) [Saffron]. Azerneshir Publishing, Baku, 23 pages (in Russian).Azizbekova, N.Sh. (1978) [Cytphysiological changes in the course of stem apices development

of saffron crocus (Crocus sativus L.).] Ph.D. thesis, Institute of Plant Physiology, Moscow(in Russian).

Azizbekova, N.Sh. and Milyaeva, E.L. (1978) [Ontogenesis of saffron (Crocus sativus L.)and the changes in stem apices. Ontogenesis, 9(3), 309–314 (in Russian).1

Azizbekova, N.Sh. and Milyaeva, E.L.(1979) Ontogenesis of saffron crocus (crocus sativus)and changes in stem apices. Soviet Journal of Development Biology, 9, 266–271.

Azizbekova, N.Sh. and Milyaeva, E.L. (in press) Saffron cultivation in Azerbaijan (thisvolume).

Azizbekova, N.Sh., Milyaeva, E.L., Lobova, N.V. and Chailakhyan, M.Kh. (1978) Effectsof gibberellin and kinetin on formation of flower organs in saffron crocus. Soviet PlantPhysiology, 25(3, part 2), 471–476.

Milyaeva, E.L. and Azizbekova, N.Sh. (1978) Cytophysiological changes in the course ofdevelopment of stem apices of saffron crocus. Soviet Plant Physiology, 25 (2, part l),227–233.

Azizbekova, N.Sh., Milyaeva, E.L., Lobova, N.V. and Chailakyan, M.Kh. (1978) [Effect ofgibberellin and kinetin on formation of flower organs in saffron crocus. Russian PlantPhysiology, 25, 471–476 (in Russian).

Grossheim, A. (1940) [Flora of Caucasus] Baku, Vol. II, 200–203. (in Russian).Gurvich, N.A. and Zadulina, V.I. (1939) [Saffron]. Azerbaijan Branch of the Academy of

Sciences Publishing, Baku, 130 pages (in Russian).Kadymov, D.R. (1940) [Directions for agriculture of saffron in Apsheron]. Azerneshir

Agricultural Department Publishing, Baku, 8 pages (in Russian).Kylany, A.N. (1979) [Growing of saffron, directions for agriculture], Azerneshir Publishing,

Baku, 24 pages (in Azerbaijani).Milyaeva, E.L. and Azizbekova, N.Sh. (1978) [Cytophysiological changes in the course of

stem apices development of saffron crocus]. Russian Journal of Plant Physiology, 15(2),289–295 (in Russian).

1 Some of the Russian references cited here have been translated into English.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (88)

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (89)

73

7. SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN GREECE

APOSTOLOS H.GOLIARIS

Department of Aromatic and Medicinal Plants,Agricultural Research Centre of Macedonia—Thrace,

570 01 Thermi—Thessaloniki, Greece

ABSTRACT Crocus sativus L. is a perennial plant that propagates by corms. Today,systematic saffron cultivation in Greece is confined to Kozani county, westernMacedonia, and is controlled by the Saffron Growers’ Cooperative. The crop maybe kept economically profitable until the seventh year. Sample analysis from manyfields, over a number of years, has proved the excellent quality of Greek saffron.

INTRODUCTION

The ancient Greek word krokos (saffron) refers, in its broadest sense, to the plant,the flower, the dyeing substance, the aromatic oil and the pharmaceutical herb.Etymologically the word krokos comes from the Greek word kroke, used todesignate the yarn woven with a shuttle in the warp of a loom. A famous fresco inthe Minoan palace of Knossos, Crete, dated from 1600 BC and known as the“saffron gatherer” depicts a blue monkey picking saffron flowers. Hippocrates(470–377 BC), Aesculapius (525–456 BC), Theophrastus (372–287 BC), Dioscorides(first century AD) and Galen (129–201 AD) quote the word krokos with referenceto the pharmaceutical herb. Sophocles (496–406 BC), the classic Greek poet anddramatist, quotes the word krokos “golden dawn krokos” in his drama “Oedipuson Kolonos” to denote the plant. In the hymn to Demeter in his Iliad, Homer(10th—9th century BC) speaks of the flowers of krokos. Aeschylus (529–456 BC), inhis drama “Agamemnon”, reports that Darius’ sandals were dyed with krokos(saffron). Aristophanes (445–385 BC), in Thesmiotes, reports that the tunics wornby Dionysus and his followers during the Dionysian mysteries were dyed withkrokos (saffron). The word krokos also appears once in the Greek translation ofthe Old Testament in Songs of Solomon 4.13–14.1

There are a number of theories concerning the origin and spread of the species.Some scientists support the view that the saffron plant is native to the Orient.Others believe that the species originated in Greece, where it was domesticatedand cultivated for the first time during the Minoan period. This theory isstrengthened by “The saffron gatherer” fresco of that period found in the palaceof Knossos on Crete. Subsequently Crocus cultivation spread in the Near and

1 And saffron in the King James translation: “Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasantfruits; camphire, with spikenard. Spikenard and saffron [karkom in Hebrew]; calamus and cinnamon,with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spice.”

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (90)

A.GOLIARIS74

Middle East, probably at the time of Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia, inthe 4th century BC.2

Today, systematic saffron cultivation in Greece is confined to only two villages(Krokos and Karyditsa) in Kozani county, in western Macedonia. In the past itwas also grown on the islands of Crete, Thera, Anafi, Delos, Syros, Tenos, Aegina,Mykonos, Andros and Corfu.

Eighteen Crocus species grow in the different geographical regions of the Greekislands and mainland:

1. Crocus chrysanthus Herb., indigenous to hilly areas throughout Greece.2. C. olivierii Day, indigenous to mountainous areas all over Greece.3. C. biflorus Mill., indigenous to northern Greece and the Ionian Islands.4. C. crewii Hook., indigenous to mountainous areas all over Greece.5. C. veluchensis Herb., indigenous to mountainous areas of continental Greece.6. C. sieberi Day, endemic plant in the mountainous areas of Crete.7. C. nivalis Bory & Chaub., indigenous to the alpine areas of continental Greece.8. C. atticus Orph., indigenous to sub-alpine areas all over Greece.9. C. pulchellus Herb., indigenous to the area from northwestern Greece down

to Thessaly.10. C. tournefortii Gay, or C. boryi var. tournefortii Baker, C. orphanidis Hook.,

indigenous to the Cyclades, predominantiy on Syros, Tenos, Mykonos and Delos.11. C. veneris Tappein., indigenous as an endemic plant in the island of Crete.12. C. boryi Cay., indigenous to Thessaly, Peloponnese and Crete.13. C. levigatus Ch. & Bory, indigenous to Thessaly, continental Greece (Sterea

Hellas), Peloponnese and Crete.14. C. sativus L., exists only as a cultivated plant in Greece.15. C. cartwrightianus Herb., indigenous to the low-fertility areas of Attica, the

Aegean islands and Crete.16. C. hadriaticus Herb., indigenous to mountainous areas all over Greece.17. C. peloponnesiacus Orph., indigenous endemic plant on Malevon Mt, Laconia

county.18. C. cancellatus Herb., indigenous all over Greece. The corms of said species

are edible after cooking or seasoning.

Of these eighteen species, the fertile C. cartwrightianus is considered to be theprogenitor of the sterile C. sativus (Mathew, this volume).

CULTIVATION

Botany

Crocus sativus L. is a perennial plant having a depressed globule-shapedunderground corm, 3–5 cm in diameter. The leaves are narrow, grass-like, 30–50cm long. The flowers, one to four per corm, open before leaf emergence, andconsist of six violet petals expanding outwards at the top. The pistil is made up of

2 Or even earlier, see Negbi’s article in this volume.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (91)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN GREECE 75

a bulbous ovary from which a slender style arises which is pale yellow and dividesinto a brilliant orangered, three-lobed stigma, 3–5 cm long. There are three stamensper flower, with twolobed anthers.

Climate

Saffron begins its growth in autumn, retains its leaves in winter, and enters adormant state by the end of spring, so as to escape the high summer temperatures.A mild subtropical climate is considered most suitable for saffron cultivation.

The regions in which saffron is grown in Greece are characterized by a specificmicroclimate: annual precipitation exceeding 500 mm, 6–7°C average minimumtemperature and 13.5–19°C average maximum temperature during October andNovember. The crop endures drought, but at certain stages of its growth water isindispensable. These critical times, when rain or irrigation is necessary, includeMarch and April, when the corms grow, and September, for quantitative andqualitative improvement of the crop.

Soil

Saffron grows in a wide range of soils, but thrives best in deep, well-drained clay-calcareous soils that have a fairly loose texture and permit easy root penetration.The soils need not be rich in nutrients. However, low—and high-pH calcareoussoils, as well as poorly drained ones, are unsuitable. An analysis of four typicalsoils in which saffron is cultivated in Greece is shown in Table 7.1.

Propagation—Lifting up of the corms

Saffron is propagated by corms. Each mother corm produces three or four newcorms in the subsequent (second) year, while the mother plant itself decays. In thethird year, 1–6 new corms are produced from each mother corm of the previousyear, which also then decays. In the fourth year corm production declines, so onlyone or no corms are produced from a mother corm, which itself decays. Thiscontinues until the fifth and sixth years. Thus, in the position occupied by theinitial corm in a new plantation (first year), one finds 3–4 corms in the secondyear, 20–22 corms in the third year and 18–20 corms from the fourth year onwards.

Table 7.1 Analysis of four typical soils supporting saffron cultivation in Greece

SCL = sandy clay loam, CL = clay loam, +++ = more, ++ = medium

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (92)

A.GOLIARIS76

The new corms begin to form after the November blossom and complete theirdevelopment before the foliage dries out in May.

The plantation may be kept economically profitable until the seventh year byexploiting the flowers for a number of years. The lifting up and harvesting ofcorms to be used as propagation material takes place after leaf drop, from June toSeptember, preferably from old (5 to 7 year) plantations, which can produce nearly6–7 tons of well-formed healthy corms per ha. The corms are stored in a cool, dryplace. Within a maximum of 2 months they can be transplanted in the field toestablish a new plantation. For a hectare of new plantation, 2–3 tons are needed.A well-developed corm should be 22–25 mm diameter and 35–40 mm high onaverage. Before transplanting, the corms must be dipped into a fungicide solution(usually PCWB 75 W.P.) for 5 min. The suggested application rate for PCWB 75W.P. is 150 g active ingredient per 100 kg of water.

Field Preparation Before Transplanting

A new plantation can be established between May and September. Beforetransplanting, the land should be well prepared to a depth of 30–35 cm by ploughingtwo or three times, depending on the prevailing climatic and soil conditions. Thefirst ploughing is performed in July and the second in August. Before the secondploughing, 20–30 tons per ha of well-fermented animal manure are spread over theland surface, to be incorporated into the soil by the subsequent ploughing. The thirdploughing is performed 8–10 days before transplanting for fine soil preparation andincorporation of mineral fertilizer. After the last ploughing, drainage troughs areformed every 10–12 m to ensure good drainage of the field in case of heavy rainfall.

Corm Planting

The corms used to be planted in furrows formed with a plough. The workers placedthe corms upright in the rows, 11–13 cm apart along the row at a depth of 15–17 cm.

The corms were covered with the soil turned over by the plough as the nextfurrow was formed. The distance between the rows is 20–25 cm. Therefore 230,000–250,000 corms per ha are needed to obtain a good plantation. Corm planting isfollowed by a light harrowing. Nowdays, the transplantation is carried out bymachine, which was sophisticated by the growers themselfs. The best period toestablish a new plantation is June. After that, no more cultivation is needed untilSeptember, when superficial chiselling can be performed to a depth of 6–8 cm.

Cultivation in the Old Plantation

When the plants in the old plantation (second to sixth years) begin to dry out inMay, all the weeds are cut and removed from the field. The soil is then cultivatedto a depth of 10 cm. The first cultivation consists of chiselling in early June, andthis is then repeated in July and September.

Fertilization

At the last chiselling in September, 40 units of N, 30 units of P2O5 and 40 units ofK2O per ha are applied and incorporated. Some growers apply another portion of

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (93)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN GREECE 77

30 units of N the following March as a surface dressing in NO3- form. In someinstances chlorotic symptoms are observed, and these are attributed to Fe or Mndeficiencies. To confront or alleviate Fe deficiency, chlorotic plants are wateredwith an organic Fe solution (Sequestrene 138, Fe), at a rate of 30 g of organic Feper 10 m2 of soil, dissolved in a small quantity of water. When Mn is deficient, soilapplications of 200 kg per ha MnSO4 are used, or the plants are sprayed with anaqueous solution of 1%o MnSO4.

Weed Control

Many weeds compete with the crop. Most common are Anagalis arvensis L.,Amaranthus blitum L., Avena fatua L., Capsella bursa pastoris L., Cichoriumintybus Jacq., Fumaria officinalis L., Papaver rhoeas L., Sinapis arvensis L., andSonchus oleraceous L.

The best weed-control method consists of hand-weeding, hoeing. These are themost effective and environmentally friendly ways, but also the most expensive.Another way is the light chisseling. The work begins after flower-picking inNovember and lasts till April. Over the past few decades, scientists have exploredand experimented with the use of more and more herbicides for weed control.According to our trials, the best control is achieved with the herbicides Simazine(Gesatop 50%) and atrazine (Gesaprim 50%) at a rate of 10 kg per ha.

Flower Picking

Saffron flowers are ephemeral. If they are exposed for too long to sunny, windy orrainy weather, their stigmas and styles lose their colour and quality and theirperfume deteriorates. Flowers must therefore be picked daily during peak floweringand every other day at the beginning and end of the flowering period. The floweringperiod starts around the beginning of October and lasts for about 30–40 days,depending on the prevailing weather conditions. Peak full-flowering coincides withthe second decade of October. The flowering period of each plant may last for upto 15 days (Figures 7.1–7.3).

Flowers are picked by hand, from sunrise to sunset (Figures 7.4 and 7.5). Theflower is cut at the base of the petals with a slight twisting movement or with the

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Diseases and Pests

The most serious fungal disease of saffron is Rhizoctonia crocorum (PERS) D.C.which causes corm decay. There are several ways to control this fungus:(a) removal and burning of the infected plants, (b) in fields heavily infested with thisfungus, a 5-year crop rotation is advised, and (c) watering the root system of diseasedplants when the first symptoms became apparent with a curative solution of thefungicide P.C.N.B. W.P. (Brassicol) at a rate of 1.5–3 g active ingredient per m2.

Other pests that cause serious damage to saffron plantations are rats, which eatthe corms, and moles, which destroy them. Rats can be effectively controlled usingpoisonous baits and moles by using a smoking gas apparatus or poisonous-gasreleasing tablets placed at the entrance to their tunnel. Special handmade gunshave also proven satisfactory against these pests.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (94)

A.GOLIARIS78

Figure 7.1 Fully grown saffron plants from a commercial crop in Krokos, Greece.

Figure 7.2 Saffron crop at the fully flowering stage in Kozani county, Greece.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (95)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN GREECE 79

fingernail. The cut flowers are collected in baskets. The largest saffron yields areobtained from third–and fourth-year plants. A product with excellent qualitycharacteristics is reaped under temperatures ranging from 13°C to 19°C and arelative humidity of 60–65%. Rains 10–15 days before flower-picking providesexcellent flowering and high production, whereas under drought conditions smallflowers with small stigmas are expected.

Separation of Stigmas/Styles from Stamens

The separation of stigmas/styles and stamens from the petals is carried out athome within 1 day of collection. First, the flowers are placed in small quantitieson a blanket made of goat’s wool. Second, with an airstream created by swiftlymoving, specially manufactured, leather-bottomed frames in the old days—onwhich a thin layer of saffron flowers was spread-or by electric ventilators nowadays,petals are separated from stamens and stigmas, which stick to the goat’s woolblanket from where they are subsequently collected (Figure 7.6). Next, the red(stigmas and styles) and yellow (stamens) saffron are separated, via one of twomethods: (1) by hand, the best but also the most expensive method, used manyyears ago (2) using a wire screen with 6×6 mm holes, which can be either flat orcylindrical. A flat screen yields up to 80% separation, whereas a cylindrical screenyields 90% separation.

Drying

When stamens and stigmas/styles are dried together, the stamens’ pollen pollutesand deteriorates the red saffron. It is therefore recommended that they be separatedfirst, before drying. The drying process consists of the following steps: The fresh

Figure 7.3 Flowering saffron crops. Styles and stigmas are quite distinct.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (96)

A.GOLIARIS80

Figure 7.4 Hand-picking of saffron flowers at Krokos, Kozani, Greece.

Figure 7.5 Baskets for the collection and transport of saffron flowers.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (97)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN GREECE 81

saffron is placed on 40×50 cm trays with a silk-fabric bottom. A thin layer ofsaffron (4–5 mm) is spread along this fabric and then these trays are piled onframes with shelves 25–30 cm apart (Figure 7.7). The frames are then placed in adark room or in a storage room for drying, heated with a firewood stove, and theroom temperature controlled. During the first few hours of the drying process,temperature is maintained at 20°C, it is then raised to 30–35°C. The drying processis terminated when the moisture content of the product has been reduced to 10–11%, usually after 12 h. If the red (stigmas and styles) and yellow (stamens) saffronare still together after drying, they can be separated at this stage. At the same time,all foreign substances (soil, hairs, threads, etc.) are removed from the dried saffronproduct (Figure 7.8). The pure dried saffron is kept in hermetically sealed glassvases or tin cans at 5–10°C.

Figure 7.6 Mechanical separator of saffron styles/stigmas and stamens from petals, using an air blower.Kozani, Greece.

Figure 7.7 Spread of saffron on tray stacks for drying.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (98)

A.GOLIARIS82

Production

To produce 1 kg of fresh red saffron (stigmas and styles), one needs around 80 kgof fresh flowers. However, to produce 1 kg of dried red saffron one needs 120,000–150,000 flowers, or 5 kg of fresh stigmas and styles. The yield of dry red saffronlargely depends on weather and soil conditions and the culture treatments thecrop has received. In a high-quality plantation, the following annual yields,expressed in dried red product, are expected:

In the first year after planting 3 kg per haIn the second year after planting 10 kg per haIn the third and fourth years after planting 15 kg per ha per yearIn the fifth and sixth years after planting 10 kg per ha per year

On average, a hectare, within 6 years, produces (a) 60 kg of red saffron (stigmasand styles), (b) 20 kg of yellow saffron (stamens).

TECHNOLOGICAL FEATURES OF GREEK SAFFRON

Main Chemical Ingredients

The main chemical ingredient contained in Greek saffron’s drug is protocrocine.After oxidation, this substance produces: (a) two molecules of picrocrocine—C16H26O7 and (b) one molecule of crocine—C44H64O24.

Figure 7.8 Pure dry commercial saffron product (styles and stigmas). Saffron Growers’ Cooperative ofKozani, Greece.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (99)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN GREECE 83

Pictocrocine is a glucoside, which upon enzymatic hydrolysis liberates itsnonsugary part, which in turn, after oxidation, produces safranal and D-glucosine.These substances are the main constituents of saffron’s essential oil, to which saffronowes its characteristic smell. The non-sugary part of crocine, crocetine, is the maindyeing substance to which saffron owes its special red colour. Other substancesthat exist in saffron are glucomicine, carotene ß, p, c, etc.

The final commercial product reaching the market has the following composition(chemical analysis by the Koying method: water; starch; oils; fat; N-substances;nonN-substances; fibres and ash).

Saffron Analysis

The composition of Greek saffron is revealed by several analyses:

Moisture (at 103°C) 8.4–9.6%Colouring power (440 nm) 120–150Total ash 5.1%Essential oil content 1.01–1.12%Impurities —Foreign colours AbsentQuality difference Absent

This analysis reflects the excellent quality of Greek saffron.

Characteristics and Uses

Commercial saffron is a natural colouring and aromatic substance derived fromfresh stigmas after appropriate drying. Some of saffron’s main uses are to improvethe colour, smell and taste of many dishes. In small quantities, it stimulates appetite,facilitates digestion and generally strengthens the human organism. Due to itsimportant properties, it is the subject of advanced scientific research to explore itspharmaceutical potential and properties, as these have been reported from theancient and recent past. Today in the European kitchen, saffron is widely used asa condiment in a variety of food preparations such as rice dishes, pastas, soups(like French bouilla-baisse), cakes, saffron bread and numerous sweets. Saffron isalso used in the food industry to dye and perfume rice, pastas, candies, dairyproducts and alcoholic beverages, as well as pharmaceutical products. Other usesof saffron are related to religious ceremonies (India) or to dyeing expensive textiles.

PROFITABILITY OF THE CROP AND AGRICULTURAL INCOME

Saffron cultivation is important for both the growers of Kozani county, in termsof their farm income, and for the Greek agricultural economy—since all annualdomestic production is exported.3

3 Greek restaurants do not offer saffron dishes (editors’ note).

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (100)

A.GOLIARIS84

The annual production cost of 1 ha of saffron within the span of a 6-year,economically productive life is $4800 of which $3600 represents human labour.The gross annual income derived from the cultivation of 1 ha of saffron is $5316.The net annual income derived from the cultivation of 1 ha of saffron is therefore$516. This income was calculated on the basis of the actual cultural expenses andthe market price of saffron, which was $600 per kg in 1995. A farmer’s annualincome from the cultivation of 1 ha of saffron is $3701. This income includes therent for the land ($480 per ha), the net income ($516 per ha) and 75% of thecalculated labour cost ($2705 per ha).

A comparison of the annual revenue of the saffron crop in 1995 with the annualagricultural income produced by 1 ha of land covered by other crops in Kozanicounty leads to the conclusion that saffron is much more profitable. Consequently,saffron could be used as an alternative crop in this region, providing an effectivesolution to the problem of substituting less profitable crops with more profitableones to raise the limited agricultural income of the farmers in this county.

The annual saffron growing data for the period 1985–95, including averageproduction, total production and market prices per kg, appear in Table 7.2.

PRODUCT MARKETING AND DISTRIBUTION

Saffron is marketed and distributed by the Saffron Growers’ Cooperative of Kozanicounty. According to the Foundation Law 818/1981 establishing the cooperative,growers are obliged to deliver all of their product to the cooperative every year tosecure its joint marketing.

The product is collected from January to late March. After drying and cleaning,it is brought to the cooperative’s storage room where, after careful inspection, it isaccepted and subsequently stored. Quality is strictly controlled by a panel ofspecialists, then the product is weighed and packaged by the cooperative in andsmall 1-g, 2-g, 4-g and 28-g packages or in large-capacity (3 kg) metal cans.

Table 7.2 Data on saffron cultivation in Greece. Mean annual values for the period 1985–95.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

The commercial saffron product is available either as threads or as finely groundpowder, which is placed in clean, hermetic packaging consisting of material whichexcludes the infiltration of foreign substances and loss of the substances it contains.

The package label provides information on: (a) the botanical and commercialname of the product, (b) its net weight and quality category, (c) the country andarea of its production, and (d) the recommended expiry, date for its use. The

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (101)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN GREECE 85

cooperative makes efforts to find customers in foreign markets and to increasesaffron consumption in the internal market.

The product is sold internationally and is delivered by an air-transport agencyto the destination airport (CIF) from where it is claimed by the recipient followingpresentation of a Bill of Loading and payment of its value against documents. Thetransaction is mediated by a Greek bank and a foreign bank designated by thebuyer.

Because it has managed to concentrate total production every year, and topromote and sell the product abroad at international prices, (a) the cooperativereestablished the trust of serious foreign commercial firms in Greek saffron, (b)the state authorities have begun to show some interest in supporting the crop, (c)the trust of the saffron growers in their cooperative is firmly founded and (d)cultivation has expanded to other areas and villages of Kozani county.

REFERENCES TO GREEK PUBLICATIONS ON SAFFRON

Dodopoulos, S. (1977) Cultivation of Saffron. Athens.Goliaris, A. (Unpublished date).Kritikos, P. (1960) Crocus. Athens.Papanikolaou, A. (1971) Saffron. Thessaloniki.Tahmatzidis, P. (1980) Crocus of Kozani. Kozani.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (102)

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (103)

87

8. SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN MOROCCO

AHMED AIT-OUBAHOU and MOHAMED EL-OTMANI

Department of Horticulture, Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire Hassan II,B.R 121, Aït Melloul, 80150 Agadir, Morocco

ABSTRACT Saffron, a well-known, highly priced dried spice, is obtained fromthe stigmas and the styles’ tops of Crocus sativus L.In Morocco, its cultivation islimited to the Taliouine area, located between the cities of Taroudant andOuarzazate and situated at the junction of the High and Low Atlas mountains. Itis an important source of income for many families and is grown on very smallplots of land. Currently, saffron acreage covers about 500 ha for a production ofabout 1000 kg per year, giving an average yield of 2 to 2.5 kg per ha. It is harvestedin the autumn months and is marketed in the main urban centres of the country,with a limited amount exported to Europe. This chapter describes the technicalaspects of saffron cultivation, harvesting and marketing in Morocco.

INTRODUCTION

Saffron (Crocus sativus L., Iridaceae) is a geophyte that propagates solely viaannual corms (Mathew 1982). It is a sterile triploid (2n=24) and is incapable ofproducing fruit or seeds (Mathew 1977). After drying, its orange-red stigmaticlobes constitute the true saffron spice (Basker and Negbi 1983, 1985; Giaccio1990) which contains pigments (crocin), an odour (safranal) and a bitter agent(picrocrocin). Its uses are varied and include perfumes, dyes, incense, cosmetics,and medicine (Basker and Negbi 1983). A single flower bears 5 to 7 mg of spiceand maximum yields range from 2.5 kg per ha in Kashmir (Bali and Sagal 1987)to 15 kg per ha in Italy (Tammaro and Di Francesco 1978). Saffron is thought tohave originated in Greece, Asia Minor and Persia (Skrubis 1990). Today it iscultivated mainly in Spain, Greece, India, Morocco and, to some extent, in severalother Asian countries.1

BOTANICAL AND BIOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Crocus sativus L. is named “Zaâfaran” in Morocco, and is a perennial plant havinga depressed globule-shaped underground corm, 3 to 5 cm in diameter. The leavesare narrow, six to seven per corm, and grass-like with an elongated blade reaching

1 See table 3 in Negbi’s article in this volume.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (104)

A.AIT-OUBAHOU AND M.EL-OTMANI88

a length of 30 cm, produced from October until May. Concomitant with leafproduction, growth of roots and daughter-corms takes place. The flowers (up to12 per corm) bloom before leaf emergence. They consist of violet petals whichexpand at the top. The pistil consists of an ovary from which a pale yellow, slenderstyle arises and divides into a three-lobed stigma which is orange-red and 2.5 to 3cm long.

The plant goes through a long rest period in summer and active growth in thefall. It also exhibits a short growth period in spring and an even shorter one inwinter (Tammaro 1990).

GEOGRAPHICAL, SOIL AND CLIMATIC CHARACTERISTICS OFTALIOUINE

In Morocco, saffron is mainly grown in Taliouine, which is located at the junctionof the Low Atlas in the South and the High Atlas mountains in the North, at alatitude of 30° 36’N, a longitude of 8°25’W, and an altitude of about 1000 m (seemap, Figure 8.1). However, saffron-growing plots are located at an altitude ofabout 1200 to 1400 m in a warm microclimate which is nevertheless cooler thanin Taliouine itself, thereby enabling higher yields and better quality saffron. Winteris relatively cold with snowy days. Although the snow cover is usually thin andshortlasting, it can cause significant damage to the leaves, the photosyntheticallyactive organs. This, in turn reduces the filling of the daughter corms and,consequently the yield of the following year. Summer temperatures can reach

Figure 8.1 Map of Morroco indicating Taliouine area where saffron is cultivated.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (105)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN MOROCCO 89

25–30°C and air is relatively dry year-round. Rainfall in the area ranges from 100to 200 mm per annum. Dominant winds blow in a N–NW direction and frost canoccur from January to March. Soils in the saffron-growing areas are either sandyloam or calcareous clay with a fairly loose texture. The latter type is dominant inthe counties of Taliouine, Zagmouzen and Agadir Melloul.

PROPAGATING MATERIAL

Corm formation and filling occur during the period of vegetative growth (October–March). In March, leaves are cut back and corms undergo a natural dormancyperiod.

During August and September, the corms, which are onion-shaped and coveredwith fibrous tunics, are dug up. The daughter corms are separated and subjectedto a selection process based on the elimination of rotten, bruised or damagedcorms. From the remaining corms, the external 2 to 3 tunics are removed, leavingonly the interior one. Only corms with a diameter greater than 2.5 cm are used inpropagation. The rest are used as animal feed. Small-size corms can result fromcrowding in the soil, leaf loss or damage before full corm development andmaturation, or severe drought during corm formation. Corms can be stored forseveral weeks in a cool, dry environment, but better sprouting is obtained if theyare used shortly after having been dug up.

FREQUENCY OF RENEWAL OF A SAFFRON PRODUCING PLOT

After flowering the parent corm gives rise to two to three new corms which developto replace the parent. On a given saffron plot, this process continues for severalyears: every year a corm develops new daughter corms, which can end up crowdingeach other until insufficient space is left for the corms to develop to a sufficientlylarge size to yield a good harvest. Moreover, every year daughter corms usuallyascend about 1 to 2 cm higher in the soil than those of the previous year, until theyend up reaching the soil surface. Again, yields decrease significantly and at thatstage, the corms have to be uprooted and moved to a new plot. Under the conditionsof Taliouine, a given saffron planting can keep producing for 5 to 12 years, onaverage, depending mainly on the planting density. Higher density plantings givegreater yields but need to be replaced within a few years. Between plantings, thefield is cultivated for about 3 to 5 years with other crops, mainly cereals, vegetablesand legumes.

LAND PREPARATION AND PLANTING

Because of the mountainous terrain, saffron is planted on terraces made on thehill slopes (Figure 8.2). Planting plots are seldom larger than 100 m2 and mayalready be planted with almonds, olives or other fruit trees (Figure 8.3). Beforeplanting, the soil is thoroughly cleared of undeskable material, ploughed to adepth of about 30 cm and then left to rest for several weeks. Ploughing is performedmainly using manual labour and animals.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (106)

A.AIT-OUBAHOU AND M.EL-OTMANI90

Figure 8.2 Terraces where saffron is grown.

Figure 8.3 Saffron grown under fruit trees.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (107)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN MOROCCO 91

Farm manure is used at 10 to 20 tons per ha, depending on its availability, andthoroughly mixed with the soil. Before planting, the land is levelled to facilitateirrigation. The soil is prepared during August and September. Manure is also usedin the third or fourth year of planting. No other fertilizers are used in the area forsaffron production.

Because the area has a relatively dry climate, it is relatively free of diseaseswhich attack saffron. The corms are therefore not subjected to any treatmentbefore planting. However, in a few plantations in the Taliouine area, the corms areinfected by the nematode Ditylenchus dipsaci (Radouni 1985). Nevertheless, thenegative effect of this nematode on corm formation and yield is limited.

Before planting, the land is divided into small, 2 m×2 m plots, each of which isirrigated separately Planting is done manually, in rows which are 20 cm apart.Bunches of two to three corms each are planted 10 to 15 cm apart within rows.Planting depth is about 15 cm and about 3 tons of saffron corms are used perhectare. Planting takes place in late August to September. Corms are stored, ifnecessary, for a short period of time in plastic bags.

After planting, the crop is irrigated and the soil is superficially worked once it isrelatively dry to allow for good aeration and flower emergence.

OTHER CULTURAL PRACTICES

Irrigation

Terraces are irrigated by flooding the plots with water, which is either drawn fromnatural mountain springs using canals and basins for storage and distribution, orpumped from 18 to 50 m deep wells. Irrigation, 350–500 m3 of water per ha, isperformed once a week from September to November and every other week fromDecember to March. No irrigation is done during the months of April–Augustwhich correspond to the period of deep corm dormancy.

Weed Control

Weeds are a problem in saffron plantations during the plants’ growth period(October–April). They are controlled by hand only, as herbicides are unknown tothe growers. The weeds are used as feed for animals.

Flower Harvesting

Flowering takes place in the fall (mid-October to end of November), with thegreatest concentration of flowering occurring during the first 10 days of November.The flowers are ephemeral and are normally harvested the same day they emerge.Flower picking is laborious and performed mainly by family members. Whenoutside labour is used, the pay is one-tenth of the amount of saffron harvested bythat labour. The task includes picking the flowers and separating the stigmas fromthe petals and stamens.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (108)

A.AIT-OUBAHOU AND M.EL-OTMANI92

Flower picking takes place early in the morning, while the flower is still closed,before the perianth segment opens. Flowers are picked at the base of the segments,and put into baskets in thin layers to avoid excess pressure and deformation of theflower organs, particularly of the stigmas. Picking goes on for the first two tothree morning hours. Immediately after harvest, the flowers are brought indoorsfor separation. During the process, the stigmas plus the uppermost 2 mm of thestyle are separated from the rest of the flower organs. If the style portion is longerthan 2 mm, saffron is considered to be of inferior quality.

During the flower-picking period, because the flowers have to be collected earlyin the morning before they open, as many workers as possible are needed to finishthis operation as quickly as possible. It is generally believed by the farmers thatsaffron from flowers that have been open for long periods in the field is of inferiorquality. This was demonstrated by Zanzucchi (cited in Tammaro 1990:53, 73)who found reduced flavouring and colouring power of saffron from open vs. closedflowers.

Drying of Saffron

The fresh red stigmas are dried immediately after harvest. Saffron is handled verygently and carefully to avoid stigma breakage and to ensure optimum conditionsfor the development of a prime quality product. The stigmas are placed on a clothin thin layers and dried in the sun for a 2 h period or in the shade after 7 to 10days. Drying is complete before the stigmas break or crumble. Air-dried saffronretains its purplish red colour, its fragrance and its aroma, and commands a highprice in the market place.

Yield

Yield is relatively low in the first year and increases to maximum in the third tofifth years after planting. After this, flower production may decrease. Saffron canvary from 2 to 6 kg per ha, based on planting density, plantation age and climaticconditions during the previous year. The average yield in the country varies from2 to 2.5 kg per ha, which is very low in comparison to modern saffron plantationsin Spain or Italy; lack of rain and irrigation during corm formation and plantgrowth significantly reduces the yield. One kg of intact flowers yields 72 g of freshsaffron (stigmas), which in turn yields 12 g of dry saffron. The final product retainsabout 5–20% humidity.

Storage of the Dried Product

In Morocco, saffron is stored as whole dried stigmas and seldom as a powder.Dried saffron is highly hygroscopic; it is kept in well-sealed clay jars or colouredglass containers, or in tightly closed tin cans, and stored in a dark, dry and coolplace. It can also be stored in tightly closed, dark plastic bags in a dry environmentfor many years.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (109)

SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN MOROCCO 93

Uses, Marketing and Economics

At the present time, saffron is sold locally to a cooperative or to buyers that serveas intermediaries between the grower and the wholesaler. The cooperative and thebuyers sell the product to wholesalers usually located in the main cities of thecountry such as Casablanca, Rabat, Fès and Marrakech. From there, saffron iseither sold in local markets or transferred to other cities. A very small portion isexported, mainly to France and Spain, which in turn re-export some of the quantityto other European countries.

Although the quantity of saffron produced in Taliouine is small, it is a biologicalproduct that deserves the highest attention because of its excellent organolepticqualities. Saffron is highly valued for these qualities and considered a source ofincome for over 2000 families.

In Morocco, use of saffron is mostly limited to food preparation or hot drinks,especially green tea. It adds colour and flavour to all kinds of traditional dishes, tomention only a few, such as couscous, tajine, pastilla, harira and pastries.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES

Current yields (2 to 2.5 kg per ha) are very low compared to those obtained inItaly (10–16 kg per ha) or Spain (10–12 kg per ha). Efforts are being devoted tobetter understanding the factors limiting yield and to improving the existing orintroducing new cultural practices (use of fertilizers, selection of plant material,irrigation, etc.). Moreover, to improve the crop’s benefit to the grower, organizationof the marketing sector is under way, with the creation of a cooperative (withapproximately 62% of the total surface area of saffron) being only the beginning.This reorganizing, coupled with a good advertising programme locally and overseas,is expected to ensure better marketing and sales. This would bring a better returnto the farmer and would contribute to increasing interest in saffron cultivationand agriculture in general among young people.

Experiments to adapt the cultivation of saffron to other areas where its culturemight be possible, such as Zagora, located south of Ouarzazate are being carriedout. Other experiments are being carried out in other locations such as Errachidia.Results have not always been conclusive and research continues.

REFERENCES

Bali, A.S. and Sagwal, S.S. (1987) Saffron—a cash crop of Kashmir. Agricultural situationin India, March 1987, 965–968.

Basker, D. and Negbi, M. (1983) The uses of saffron. Economic Botany, 37, 228–236.Basker, D. and Negbi, M. (1985) Crocetin equivalent of saffron extracts. Comparison of

three extraction methods. J. Assoc. Public. Anal, 23, 65–69.Giaccio, M. (1990) Components and features of saffron, in Tammaro, F. and Marra, L.

(eds.) (1990) Lo Zafferano: Proceedings of the International Conference on Saffron(Crocus sativus L.) L’Aquila (Italy) 27–29 October 1989. Università Degli Studi L’Aquilae Accademia Italiana della Cucina, L’Aquila, pp. 135–148.

Mathew, B. (1977) Crocus sativus and its allies (Iridaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution,128, 89–103.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (110)

A.AIT-OUBAHOU AND M.EL-OTMANI94

Mathew, B. (1982) The crocuses: a revision of the genus Crocus. B.T.Batsford, London.Radouni, J. (1985) Monographie du Saffran dans la region de Taliouine. Mémoire d’ingénieur

d’application, IAV Hassan II, Agadir, Maroc.Skrubis, B. (1990) The cultivation in Greece of Crocus sativus L., in Tammaro, F. and

Marra, L. (eds.) (1990) Lo Zafferano: Proceedings of the International Conference onSaffron (Crocus sativus L.) L’Aquila (Italy) 27–29 October 1989. Università Degli StudiL’Aquila e Accademia Italiana della Cucina, L’Aquila, pp. 171–172.

Tammaro, F. (1990) Crocus sativus L. cv. Piano di Navelli (L’Aquila saffron): environment,cultivation, morphometric characteristics, active principles, uses, in Tammaro, F. andMarra, L. (eds.) (1990) Lo Zafferano: Proceedings of the International Conference onSaffron (Crocus sativus L.) L‘Aquila (Italy) 27–29 October 1989. Università DegliStudi L’Aquila e Accademia Italiana della Cucina, L’Aquila, pp. 47–57.

Tammaro, F. and Di Francesco, L. (1978) Lo zafferano dell’Aquila. Istituto di Tecnica ePropaganda Agraria, Roma, 20 pages.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (111)

95

9. SAFFRON TECHNOLOGY

DOV BASKER

Department of Food Science,Agricultural Research Organization,

The Volcani Centre, Bet Dagan, Israel

ABSTRACT Before marketing, saffron stigmas must be picked, separated anddried. The latter step, known in peasant cultures, has not yet been defined noroptimized scientifically. Dyeing with saffron is discussed, as are its milling andpackaging for use as a food spice.

Etymological note: The oldest known document in which the source-word of“saffron”, za’afran, appears is the Jerusalem Targum (ca 250 CE) in Judeo-Aramaic,a dialect of the dominant west-Semitic language in the Near East at that time. Notechnological details were given.

INTRODUCTION

All technology is “easy”—provided that somebody else is doing it. We only beginto understand the problems overcome by the craftsman, be he tinker or tailor,when we try to duplicate his art without his guidance. How difficult can it be todry saffron? Then why is the quality, as reflected in the market price, so variableamong producers (Sampathu et al. 1984; Ward 1988; Vinning 1989)? The bestSpanish saffron is well known in world markets and indeed dominates them; onlyits price is quoted in the general press, and this depends on supply alone (Basker1993): in the range of 17 to 118 tonnes per annum (mean=39, median=26) exportedfrom Spain from 1975 to 1986, the last data available,

[1]

The retail price, in perhaps 1—or 2—g packages, is several-fold higher. Othergrowers cater to their local markets but export only relatively small amounts.

QUALITY

“Quality” is made up of many factors, beginning with guaranteed authenticityand secondly the assurance of non-adulteration. Both these factors can be checkedby laboratory examination, essential when confronted with a supplier of unknown

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (112)

D.BASKER96

history, but they are not sufficient. The next major parameter (see the chapter onsaffron chemistry, this volume) is the colour intensity, followed by odour andtaste. Retail consumers can make their own subjective assessments of the sensoryparameters: place 5 to 10 mg of dried saffron in a white (internally) 250-ml cup,add boiling water to fill, and note the colour extracted, the odour and (after somecooling) the taste; for comparison, the three dried stigmas from a single flower’striad weigh 5 mg (Basker 1993), and the pharmaceutical dose “for those at death’sdoor” would be 500 mg (Gerard 1633; Culpeper 1652), while 1.5 g (1500 mg)may be fatal (Fasal and Wachner 1933). To make “saffron tea” (Quimm 1976),add a (1 g) teabag briefly to the hot saffron extract before cooling and add sugar,sweetener or lemon to taste, but not milk.

PICKING

Picking crocus flowers requires intensive stoop-labour (Tammaro 1990): the flowersare only a few centimetres above-ground and are frequently, but not always (Negbi1990), surrounded by long thin leaves which must not be damaged—or elsedaughter-corms will not form to replace the current generation. Flowering takesplace in autumn, lasts only two to three weeks (Basker 1993) and picking is requiredalmost daily (ibid.; Anon. 1982; Tammaro, this volume): the flowers wilt rapidlyand once this has happened they cannot readily be separated into their constituentparts. Reports that whole flowers are “dried in the sun as such” and the stigmaslater “picked by hand” should not be given much credence if the product is expectedto be saffron in more than just name.

SEPARATION

Cutting the style with its three attached stigmas is followed by physical separationfrom the petals and anthers. These stages are also traditionally labour-intensivebut can be performed while seated in comfortable surroundings (Greenberg andLambert Ortiz 1983, photograph on pages 76–77; Ward 1988). One commonmethod of doing both simultaneously is to pluck the stigmas from the flower(Sampathu et al, 1984; Tammaro 1990), or with a fingernail. Mechanical cuttingis possible theoretically but difficult in practice, to be followed by fan-separation(Galigani 1987; Kapur 1988; Skrubis 1990). A third reported separation methodconsists of water-flotation (Watt 1908; Nauriyal et al. 1977), almost guaranteedto result in a low-quality product because of leaching of water-soluble constituents,including the important colour parameter.

DRYING

Three market forms of saffron are known: “hay”, “cake” and powder. The dryingprocess employed is always the most critical with regard to quality (Zarghami

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (113)

SAFFRON TECHNOLOGY 97

1970; Pruthi 1980). The relationship between temperature and the time requiredto dry hay saffron—stigmas in the loose state (Oxford English Dictionary 1971)—to completion has been studied (Basker 1993), but use of the resultant product toestimate optimal-drying sensory conditions failed (ibid.) because, with hindsight,all volatiles had been lost. Proximate analysis of commercial saffron also showsthat drying to zero moisture is not an appropriate model (see Table 1 in the chapteron saffron chemistry, this volume). Zarghami (1970) recommends “properroasting” at unspecified low temperatures. Ameloti and Mannino (1977) writepositively of a “fermentation process” [as opposed to a negative connotation forfermentation during storage (Tammaro 1990)] but do not elucidate. Charcoalfires (Tyler et al. 1976; Sokolov 1989; Skrubis 1990; Tammaro 1990) are used for“artificial heating” (Zarghami 1970; Sampathu et al. 1984) with few practicaldetails save a remark that “too much heat” destroys the aroma (Ward 1988).

Solar drying, in sun or in shade, has been used as an alternative to “artificialheating” (Watt 1908; Moldenke and Moldenke 1952; Morton and Zallinger 1976;Nauriyal et al. 1977; Kapur 1988) even though it is almost guaranteed to result ina photochemical decrease in colour intensity (see the chapter on saffron chemistry,this volume). Drying by solar exposure may be “natural”, but as the resultantproduct shows, it is also crude; the constraint does not apply if sunlight is usedonly as the heat source, without exposure.

The third drying method, apparently no longer in use, is for the production ofcake saffron (Rosengarten 1969; Oxford English Dictionary 1971). For this method,a layer of stigmas approximately 6 cm thick was “kiln-dried” under the pressure ofa board (Howard 1678; Douglass 1729; Encyclopaedia Britannica 1905; Grieve1959), first for 2 h at one unstated temperature and for a further 24 h at a lowerone, also unstated. Our own trials were unsuccessful, possibly because insufficientraw material was available to build up a layer of adequate thickness. The statementthat honey and safflower are added to the saffron cake (Wren 1980) must betreated warily, use of honey may be justified technologically as a binder (doubtful),if permitted by local legislation and properly declared on the label; but the additionof safflower could constitute a prima facie case of adulteration. The final producthas been described as a”compressed matted mass” (Rosengarten 1969).

DYE

Saffron has been used as a yellow dye for wool since ancient times (Basker andNegbi 1983), although Liddell and Scott (1897) feel that this was not yet so in theHomeric era (8th century BCE). A statement that the colour’s water-solubilityrenders it unsuitable for dyeing (Stuart 1979) indicates that the author was unawarethat the material to be dyed must be mordanted, i.e. soaked in a warm solution ofalum [K2A12(SO4)2] and cream of tartar [KH tartrate] and then dried (Schetky1968) before beginning the actual dyeing procedure. The result is a long-lastingyellow. It was once used in Turkish carpets, retaining the colour after decades ofconstant use (A.Kempinsky 1983, pers. comm.); for economic reasons, saffron isno longer used for this purpose (ibid.). Saffron was also one of the first products

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (114)

D.BASKER98

used to stain biological tissues for microscopy (Lewis 1942; Gurr 1956; see thesection on Histochemistry in Negbi, this volume).

MILLING

Saffron is milled into a powder by equipment which shears the brittle dry stigmas(Tammaro 1990). Crushing, as in a ball-mill or with a mortar and pestle, does notproduce the desired result with any efficiency. Some consumers are wary ofpurchasing powdered saffron, fearing the ease with which it may conceal anadulterant from the naked eye, and so prefer hay saffron; on the other hand,colour extraction from the powder may be more complete (International StandardsOrganization 1980), and milling may also release odoriferous material entrappedin the tissue and/or result in thermal dissociation of picrocrocin to release safranal.Hay saffron may be crushed in the presence of salt or sugar (Roden 1975), whichfor marketing would require the permission of local legislation and label-declaration; with ingredients whose cost differs by several orders of magnitude,permission for such admixture might presuppose inordinate one-sided officialbenevolence.

PACKAGING

The small amounts of saffron in individual retail packages, usually less than 2 g,result in problems for non-specialized packers whose equipment is insufficientlyprecise. Instances of serious short- and over-weight have been noted—the formerliable to result in prosecution and the latter in financial loss—and in one case anautomatic weigher+printer marked packages as containing “0.000 kg”! Specializedpackers have the means of maintaining net weight to within less than 0.1 g tolerance,no small engineering feat and requiring a throughput sufficient to justify theinvestment in equipment; these packers do not use simple multi-purpose transparentbags, capsules or containers for their product, but custom-designed and hermeticallysealed laminates to protect against air (oxygen), light, moisture, contaminationand quality deterioration, as well as to retain volatiles such as safranal; each suchenvelope may then be inserted into a much large container for retail presentationas part of a range of similar packs for other spices, more bulky and less expensiveper unit weight than saffron.

Until a wholesale of package—say, 10 kg—of saffron is prepackaged for retailsale it can be stored under lock and key with relative ease, provided that dueprecaution is taken to protect it against quality deterioration (Tammaro 1990),including cool temperatures, preclusion of air and controlled humidity (Manninoand Amelloti 1977; Alonso et al. 1990). Sulphur dioxide (SO2), which has a widerange of industrial applications, must be scrupulously distanced, even in tinyamounts, from saffron (Rayner 1991) to prevent bleaching. Packaging for retailsale requires time, labour, equipment, relatively large quantities of suitable laminate,containers, labels and cartons—and appropriate finance and a market network:the same wholesale package may result in, say, 200 cartons with 5,000 packs of 2g net each, presenting a new set of warehousing problems to be overcome.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (115)

SAFFRON TECHNOLOGY 99

MARKETING

Expansion of the market for saffron spice in home or restaurant food preparationdoes not appear to be linked to any increase in general affluence within cultureswithout preknowledge of its use (Olney 1977). In 1986, for example, the US, witha vastly greater population, imported only about as much saffron as did Sweden(Commonwealth Secretariat, London 1988, pers. comm.). Economic reality limitsits use on humbler tables, unless home-grown (Claire 1961). Newer uses inprocessed foods presuppose that sensory and subjective quality will be emphasizedover purely economic considerations by consumers as well as by advertisers. Saffronhas been proposed for mayonnaise (Carrier 1976) and soft drinks (Timberlakeand Henry 1986), and is known to be used in the limited opulent market forhalwa (Dagher 1991). Methods for confirming its presence in such foods havebeen investigated (Montag 1962; Corradi et al. 1981). However, little purposewould be served by adding saffron to oil-based foods such as butter (Basker andNegbi 1983) as a-crocin is not oil-soluble; in flour confectionery there is some riskof a green hue forming by reaction with the enzyme ß-glucosidase over a 6—to 8-h period in the presence of proteins, but the enzyme is inactivated during baking(Rayner 1991). It has also been suggested that carotenoid products might finduses in cosmetics (Bauernfeind et al. 1971), where marketing costs often swampingredient costs.

A recipe for “Saffron Broth” was included in the first cookbook to be printedwith movable type (Platina 1475): 30 egg yolks and unstated quantities of unripegrape juice, veal or capon juice, saffron and cinnamon were to be mixed, strainedand cooked, stirring until thickening occurred, and sprinkled with (undefined)spices for ten servings.

REFERENCES

Alonso, G.L., Varón, R., Gómez, R., Navarro, F. and Salinas, M.R. (1990) Auto-oxidationin saffron at 40°C and 75% relative humidity. Journal of Food Science, 55, 595–596.

Amelotti, G. and Manning, S. (1977) [Analytical evaluation of the commercial quality ofsaffron.] Revista della Societa Italiana di Scienza dell’ Alimentazione, 6, 17–20 (inItalian).

Anonymous (1982) Spices; A survey of World Trade. International Trade Centre, UNCTAD/GATT, Geneva, Vol. 1, pp. 71–72.

Basker, D. (1993) Saffron, the costliest spice: drying and quality, supply and price. ActaHorticulturae, 344, 86–97.

Basker, D. (1999) Saffron chemistry (this volume).Basker, D. and Negbi, M. (1983) The uses of saffron. Economic Botany, 37, 228–236.Bauernfeind, J.C., Brubacher, G.B., Klaui, H.M. and Marusich, W.L. (1971) Uses of

carotenoids. In O.Isler (ed.), Carotenoids, Birkhauser Verlag, Basel, pp. 743–770.Blacow, N.W. (Ed.) (1972) Martindale. The Extra Pharmacopoeia (26th ed). The

Pharmaceutical Press, London, pp. 726.Carrier, R. (1976) The Robert Carrier Cookery Course. Sphere Books Ltd., London, Vol. 1,

pp. 60.Clair, C. (1961) Of Herbs and Spices. Aberland-Schuman, London, pp. 15.Corradi, C, Micheli, G. and Sprocate, G. (1981) [Determination of saffron in compound

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (116)

D.BASKER100

food products by identification of colour, bitter taste and odour.] Industrie Alimentari(in Italian), 20, 624, 627- 629.

Culpeper, N. (1652) Quoted by Silberrad and Lyall (1909).Dagher, S.M. (Ed.) (1991) Traditional Foods in the Near East. FAO Food and Nutrition

Paper 50, Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, pp. 151.Douglass, J. (1729) An account of the culture and management of saffron in England.

Philosophical Transactions, 35, 566–574.Encyclopaedia Britannica (1905) The Werner Company, Akron, OH, Vol 21, pp. 153–154.Fasal, P. and Wachner, G. (1933) Wein. klin. Wschr. 45, 745. Quoted by Blacow (1972).Galigani, P.F. (1987) La meccanizzazione delle colturie di salvia, lavanda, zafferano e

genziana. In A.Bezzi (1987) Atti Convegno sulla Coltivazione delle Piante Officinalli,Trento, 1986, Ministero dell’Agricoltura e delle Foreste, pp. 221–235 (Italian, Englishsummary).

Gerard, J. (1633) The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes, reprinted 1975. DoverPublications Inc., New York, p. 154.

Greenberg, S. and Lambert Ortiz, E. (1983) The spice of life. Michael Joseph/Rainbird,London.

Grieve, M. (1959) A Modern Herbal. Hafner Publishing Co., New York, Vol. 2, pp. 698.Gurr, E. (1956) A Practical Manual of Medical and Biological Staining Techniques. Leonard

Hill [Books) Ltd., London, pp. 194.Howard, C. (1678) A relation of culture, or planting and ordering of saffron. Philosophical

Transactions 12, 945–949.International Standards Organization (1990) Saffron—Specification. International Standard

3632, Geneva.Jerusalem Targum, VaYikra, ch. 15, v. 19., M.Ginsburger (transcriber) (1903). S.Carvary

& Co. Berlin, p. 199.Kapur, B.M. (1988) Annual Report 1987–88, Regional Research Laboratory, Council of

Scientific Industrial Research, Jammu, pp. 56.Lewis, F.T. (1942) The introduction of biological stains: employment of saffron by Vieussens

and Leeuwenhoek. Anat. Rec., 83, 229–253.Liddell, H.G. and Scott, R. (1897) A Greek-English Lexicon (8th ed). American Book

Company, pp. 847.Mannino, S. and Amelotti, G. (1977) [Determination of the optimum humidity for storage of

saffron.] Revista della Societa Italiana di Scienza dell’ Alimentazione 6, 95–98 (in Italian).Moldenke, H.N. and Moldenke, A.L. (1952) Plants of the Bible. Chronica Botanica

Company, Waltham, MA, pp. 87.Montag, A. (1962) Z.Lebens. Unters. Forsch. 116, 413 ff. Quoted by Banerfeind et al.

(1971).Morton, J.F. and Zallinger, J.D. (1976) Herbs and Spices, Golden Press, New York, pp. 98.Nauriyal, J.P., Gupta, R. and George, C.K. (1977) Saffron in India. Arecanut and Spice

Bulletin, 8 (3), 59–72.Negbi, M. (1990) Physiological research on the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus). In F.

Tammaro and L.Marra (eds.), Lo Zafferano: Proceedings of the International Conferenceon Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) L’Aquila (Italy) 27–29 October 1989. Università DegliStudi L’Aquila e Accademia Italiana della Cucina, L’Aquila, pp. 183–207.

Olney, R. (1977) Simple French Food. Atheneum, New York.Oxford English Dictionary, Compact ed (1971). Oxford University Press, Glasgow.Platina (Bartolomeo de Sacchi di Piadena) (1475) De Honesta Voluptate [On Honest

Indulgence and Good Health], Andrews, E.B. (trans.), Vol. V. Mallinckrodt Collectionof Food Classics, Lib. VI, Cap. (in Latin and English).

Pruthi, J.S. (1980) Spices and Condiments: Chemistry, Microbiology, Technology. AcademicPress, New York, pp. 182.

Quimm, P. (1976) The Signet Book of Coffee and Tea. New American Library, New York,pp. 138.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (117)

SAFFRON TECHNOLOGY 101

Rayner, P.B. (1991) Colours. In J.Smith (ed.), Food Additive User’s Handbook. Blackie,Glasgow, pp. 106, 107.

Roden, C. (1975) A Book of Middle Eastern Food Penguin Books, Hamondsworth, pp. 38.Rosengarten, F. (1969) The Book of Spices. Livingston Publishing Co., Wynnewood, PA,

pp. 390.Sampathu, S.R., Shivashankar, S. and Lewis, Y.S. (1984) Saffron (Crocus sativus Linn.)—

cultivation, processing, chemistry and standardization. CRC Critical Review in FoodScience and Nutrition, 20, 123–157.

Schetky, E.J. (Ed.) (1968) Dye Plants and Dyeing—A Handbook, Brooklyn BotanicalGardens, Brooklyn, NY, pp. 19.

Silberrad, U. and Lyall, S. (1909) Dutch Bulbs and Gardens. Adam & Charles Black, London,p. 38.

Skrubis, B. (1990) The cultivation in Greece of Crocus sativus L. In F.Tammaro and L.Marra(eds.), Lo Zafferano: Proceedings of the International Conference on Saffron (Crocussativus L.) L’Aquila (Italy) 27–29 October 1989. Università Degli Studi L’Aquila eAccademia Italiana della Cucina, L’Aquila, pp. 171–182.

Sokolov, R. (1989) The fruits of Spanish labor. Natural History, March 1989, pp. 82–85.Stuart, M. (Ed.) (1979) VNR Color Dictionary of Herbs and Herbalism. Van Nostrand

Reingold Co., New York, p. 52.Tammaro, F. (1990) Crocus sativus L. cv. Piano di Navelli (L’ Aquila saffron): environment,

cultivation, morphometric characteristics, active principles, uses. In F.Tammaro andL.Marra (eds.), Lo Zafferano: Proceedings of the International Conference on Saffron(Crocus sativus L.) L,’Aquila (Italy) 27–29 October 1989. Università Degli Studi L’Aquilae Accademia Italiana della Cucina, L’Aquila, pp. 47–97.

Timberlake, C.F. and Henry, B.S. (1986) Plant pigments as natural food colours. Endeavour,10, 31–36.

Tyler, V.E., Brady, L.R. and Robbers, J.E. (1976) Pharmacognosy (7th ed.). Lea and Febiger,Philadelphia, PA, p. 102.

Vinning, G. (1989) Growth, Production and Distribution of Spices. Australian Centre forInternational Agricultural Research, Working Paper No. 27. Ward, C.R. (1988) Flowersare a mine for a spice more precious than gold. Smithsonian, 19 (5), 104–111.

Watt, G. (1908) The Commercial Products of India. John Murray, London, p. 430.Wren, R.C. (1980) Potter’s New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations. Health

Science Press, Hengiscote, Bradford, p. 265.Zarghami, N.S. (1970) The Volatile Constituents of Saffron (Crocus sativus L.). Ph.D.

Thesis, Univ. Calif. Davis, p. 83.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (118)

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (119)

103

10. SAFFRON IN BIOLOGICAL AND MEDICALRESEARCH

FIKRAT I.ABDULLAEV1 and GERALD D.FRENKEL2

1Laboratorio de Oncologia Experimental, Intituto Nacional de Pediatria,Av. Insurgentes Sur 3700-C 04530 Mexico, D.F.Mexico2Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University,

Newark, New Jersey, USA

ABSTRACT There is a long history of the use of saffron in the traditionalmedicines of many cultures. As a result of a variety of recent scientificinvestigations, there is now convincing evidence for the biological activity ofsaffron and its constituents. One of the activities of saffron which has the greatestpotential medical applicability is its ability to inhibit carcinogenesis. A numberof recent studies have shown that saffron extract possesses antitumor activityagainst transplanted tumors and anticarcinogenic activity against chemicallyinduced carcino-genesis in vivo, and cytotoxic effects on tumor-derived cells invitro. These findings have raised the possibility that natural saffron and/or someof its constituents might be used as alternative antitumor or anticarcinogenicagents, either alone or in combination with synthetic substances having anticanceractivity. The recent scientific findings on the biological activities of saffron,together with the body of anecdotal evidence for its therapeutic activity againsta number of diseases, provide strong indications that saffron and/or itscomponents may be useful agents in modern medicine.

INTRODUCTION

In the past few years, there has been increasing interest in the biological effectsof saffron and its potential medical applications (see Table 10.1). The scientificl*terature on this aspect of saffron was the subject of a review which appearedseveral years ago (Abdullaev 1993). Accordingly, this chapter will focus onrecent developments in the field, within the context of the body of previousknowledge.

To a certain extent, the recent interest in saffron is part of a generally increasingawareness of the great medical potential of natural products (such as spices)with low toxicity. In addition, however, the long history of traditional medicalapplications of saffron suggests that the scientific investigation of saffron andits constituents will prove to be particularly fruitful. Accordingly, before discussingthe current scientific literature on the biological effects of saffron, we will brieflyreview this medical history. It is important to bear in mind that the basis forthese medical applications is almost entirely anecdotal; nevertheless, as a whole,these reports can reasonably be taken as an indication of the appropriateness of

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (120)

F.I.ABDULLAEV AND G.D.FRENKEL104

a significant scientific investigation into the potential medical applications ofsaffron.

Historically, saffron has been employed in many medicinal remedies againstnumerous conditions. In Chinese traditional medicine, saffron has been widelyused for its anodyne, tranquilizing and emetic properties. It has also been used inthe treatment of menstrual disturbances, thrombus diseases and some other diseasesrelated to high blood viscosity. It has found applications in nervous disorders: toallay fears, cure trances and in the treatment of some disorders of the centralnervous system (Suzhou New Medical College 1977, Zhou et al. 1987,Liakopoulou-Kyriakides and Skubas 1990). Its medical value was recorded inYiLin-Ji-Yao, a traditional Chinese medical book composed during the MingDynasty (16th century); notable among the effects described was the promotionof blood circulation to remove blood stasis. The book Yinshanzhengyao (“TheImportance of Diet”) (circa 1550) contains 136 recipes which include saffron fortreating a variety of conditions. Saffron also appears in several traditional Chinesepharmaceutical compendia (Ni 1992). It has been used in traditional Indian andAzerbaijani medicine to treat various diseases including cancer, heart disease, eyedisease, blood disease and muscle paralysis (Kasumov 1970, Pfander and Witwer1975, Nadkarni 1976, Damirov et al. 1988).

A few scientific reports of medico-pharmacological significance have alsoappeared concerning saffron and its components. Miwa (1954) reported aninhibitory effect on the increase of bilirubin in the blood, and Gainer and Jones(1975) reported a decrease in serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels induced bycrocin and crocetin. More recently, saffron extracts have been reported to contain

Table 10.1 Scientific institutions in which research on the biological properties of saffron has beencarried out during the past five years.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (121)

SAFFRON IN BIOLOGICAL AND MEDICAL RESEARCH 105

both a platelet-aggregation inducer and inhibitor (Liakopoulou-Kyriakides andSkubas 1990).

BIOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF SAFFRON AND ITS COMPONENTS

Studies In Vivo

There have been several recent investigations focusing on the effects of saffronand its components on the nervous system which have led to the discovery of anapparent interaction with ethanol. In one study, Zhang et al. (1994) examined theacute effects of saffron extract on passive-avoidance performance in normal andin learning- and memory-impaired mice. A single oral administration of extracthad no effect on memory registration, consolidation or retrieval in normal mice.However, the extract did reduce the ethanol-induced impairment of memoryregistration in both step-through and step-down tests and the ethanol-inducedimpairment of memory retrieval in step-down tests. The extract also decreased themotor activity and prolonged the sleeping time induced by hexobarbital. Theauthors suggested that saffron ameliorates the impairment effects of ethanol onlearning and memory processes, and possesses a sedative effect. They suggestedfour possible mechanisms for this effect: 1) saffron facilitates the detoxification ofalcohol by decreasing its absorption from the gastrointestinal tract; 2) saffronaccelerates the elimination of alcohol from the brain by promoting its metabolismin the liver; 3) saffron accelerates the elimination of alcohol from the brain bypromoting blood circulation; and 4) saffron antagonizes the pharmacological effectsof ethanol in the central nervous system.

In a second study, the effect of saffron extract on long-term potentiation ofevoked potential in the dentate gyrus was investigated in anesthetized rats (Sugiuraet al. 1995a). Interestingly, saffron was found to antagonize the long-termpotentiation-blocking action of ethanol, at doses comparable to those whichantagonized the memory-impairing effect of ethanol. The authors concluded thattheir results provide direct evidence of saffron extract’s specific antagonizing actionagainst ethanol, although they did not further clarify the underlying mechanism(s)of this effect.

A number of related studies have also been carried out with compounds whichare known to be significant components of saffron extracts. In general, these haveindicated that one compound in particular, crocin, is the most active as an ethanolantagonist and hence may be responsible for this activity of saffron extract(Morimoto et al. 1994, Sugiura et al. 1994, 1995a,b,c). These works have suggestedthat crocin may be useful as a pharmacological tool for studying the action ofethanol.

Saffron extract has also been shown to possess antitumor activity (that is, aninhibitory effect on tumor growth) and anticarcinogenic activity (that is, aninhibitory effect on the induction of cancer by carcinogens). The various studieswhich have been carried out on this effect of saffron are listed in Table 10.2.

The first report of the antitumor effect of saffron extract was published in 1991(Nair et al. 1991 a). This study showed that in mice, oral administration of saffron

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (122)

F.I.ABDULLAEV AND G.D.FRENKEL106

extract induces a dose-dependent inhibition of the intraperitoneal growth in miceof ascites tumors derived from sarcoma-180 (S-180), Erlich ascites carcinoma (EAC)and Dalton’s lymphoma ascites (DLA) cells. Tumor-bearing mice which received200 mg extract per kg body weight had significantly longer (two—to threefold)life spans than untreated tumor-bearing animals. Results of hematological andbiochemical studies suggested that administration of this dose of extract to animalsresults in no overt toxicity (the LD50 was found to be 600 mg/kg). In a subsequentstudy (Nair et al. 1994), these authors found that oral administration of saffronextract in mice significantly inhibits the growth of solid tumors derived from DLAand S-180 cells, but does not affect the growth of solid tumors derived from EACcells. They observed an elevation in the levels of ß-carotene and vitamin A in theserum of the animals receiving saffron, and suggested this as a possible mechanismfor the antitumor effect. In an interesting study, Nair et al. (1992) examined theefficacy of an alternative route of delivery: liposome-encapsulated saffron extractwas injected intraperitoneally and the effect on tumor growth was examined. Theauthors concluded that liposome encapsulation enhances the antitumor activityof the extract towards several solid tumors, including the EAC tumor which wasinsensitive to orally administered extract. This enhancement in antitumor activitycould be due to site-directed drug delivery or to carrier-mediated increased drugsolubility (Nair et al. 1992).

Salomi et al. (1990, 1991a, b) examined the effect of saffron extract on thechemical induction of cancer in mice. They observed significant anti-carcinogenicactivity of topically applied extract against dimethylbenz[a]anthracene-inducedpapillomas and of orally administered extract against methylcholanthrene-inducedsarcomas. Of particular interest are several studies which have suggested the possibleapplication of saffron extract in combination with “standard” chemotherapeutic

Table 10.2 Antitumor effects of saffron and its components in vivo and in vitro

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (123)

SAFFRON IN BIOLOGICAL AND MEDICAL RESEARCH 107

agents to decrease their toxicity. Thus, Nair et al. (1991b) demonstrated thattreatment with saffron extract prolongs the life span of cisplatin-treated micetwofold. Moreover the extract partially prevented the decrease in body weight,hemoglobin levels and leukocyte counts caused by cisplatin. Similarly, Salomi etal. (1991b) reported that saffron extract increases the life span of mice treatedwith chronic lethal doses of cyclophosphamide.

Studies In Vitro

A number of studies have demonstrated a cytotoxic effect of saffron extract on tumorcells in vitro. When trypan-blue dye exclusion was employed as a criterion of cellviability, the LD50 of the extract was found to range from approximately 7 µg/ml to 30µg/ml, depending upon the type of tumor cells (Salomi et al. 1990, Nair et al. 1991a,1994). Interestingly, there was no significant effect on normal mouse spleen cells, evenat higher extract concentrations (Nair et al. 1991a). Other studies, utilizing colonyformation as a measure of cell viability, showed that pretreatment of several types oftumor cells with saffron extract results in a dose-dependent decrease in their ability toform colonies, but has little or no comparable effect on normal cells.

Other studies have focused on the effects of saffron on various biochemicalproperties and processes of cells in culture. Exposure of tumor cells to saffronextract results in the inhibition of cellular nucleic acid synthesis (Abdullaev andFrenkel 1992a,b). Saffron has been shown to stimulate or support non-specificproliferation of immature and mature lymphocytes in vitro (Nair et al. 1992). Theobserved saffron-induced elevation in the intracellular levels of reduced glutathioneand glutathione-related enzymes has suggested a possible antioxidant activity ofsaffron comparable to that of ß-carotene (Nair et al. 1992).

A recent study (Abdullaev and Gonzalez de Mejia 1996) examined possibleinteractions between saffron and selenite, a compound with known anticarcinogenicactivity (Combs and Combs 1986). Treatment of tumor cells with saffron incombination with selenite caused more effective inhibition of colony formationand nucleic acid synthesis relative to the effects of these agents alone. Treatmentof tumor cells with saffron resulted in an increase in the level of intracellularsulfhydryl compounds (Nair et al. 1991a, Abdullaev and Gonzalez de Mejia 1996).Since the potency of selenite is known to correlate with the level of sulfhydrylcompounds in the cell (Abdullaev et al. 1992c), this could explain the potentiationof selenite cytotoxicity by saffron.

In addition to these studies on the effects of saffron extract, there have beenseveral investigations of the effects of some of its known components in vitro. Itwas demonstrated that the natural antioxidant 3, 8-dihydroxy-1-methylantraquinone2-carboxylic acid is present in saffron, and that it exhibits higherantioxidant activity than vitamin E in inhibiting the oxidation of linoleic acid (Isa1992). Morjani et al. (1990) described the effects of the natural carotenoids crocinand its derivative dimethylcrocetin on K562 tumor cells. They reported thatincubation with these compounds for 3 days results in significant inhibition of cellgrowth and differentiation. Tarantilis et al. (1992, 1994) investigated the potency

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (124)

F.I.ABDULLAEV AND G.D.FRENKEL108

of a variety of natural and semi-synthetic carotenoids, in comparison to that ofretinoic acid. These compounds were highly effective in inhibiting the proliferationof HL-60 leukemic cells, as well as in inducing differentiation. The authors suggestedthat although the carotenoids are somewhat less potent than retinoic acid, theyare expected to be less toxic and hence could prove useful in cancer chemotherapy.

To investigate whether the effects of saffron on cell proliferation can be accountedfor by the effects of some of its major components, Escribano et al. (1996) comparedthe inhibitory effects of saffron extract to those of crocin, crocetin, picrocrocin andsafranal. They concluded that the growth-inhibitory activity detected in total saffronextracts is mostly due to crocin. In particular, they found that crocetin exhibits verylittle cytotoxicity (as also reported by Abdullaev 1994 and Abdullaev and Gonzalezde Mejia 1996). This result suggests that sugars play a key role in the cytotoxic effectof crocin, since crocetin is its de-glycosylated derivative. Nevertheless, crocetin hasbeen shown to inhibit cellular nucleic acid and protein synthesis (Abdullaev 1994),suggesting that it may also play a role in saffron cytotoxicity. In kinetic studies, Escribanoet al. (1996) demonstrated that safranal has a more rapid effect than picrocrocin orcrocin. This may reflect a better diffusion of safranal through the cell membrane dueto its apolar nature and low molecular weight. They also described a number ofmorphological changes which are induced by crocin, including vacuolated areas, sizereduction and condensed nuclei. These morphological changes might reflect themetabolic alterations which have been previously demonstrated at the molecular levelin cells treated with saffron extract (Abdullaev and Frenkel 1992a, b).

Possible Mechanisms of Action

It is now generally accepted that cancer can be prevented by a variety of syntheticand naturally occurring compounds. Despite a large body of experimental andepidemiological evidence, the mechanism of action of most of thesechemopreventive agents remains poorly understood. It should be noted that thecomplicated chemical composition of extracts of natural products makes itparticularly difficult to determine the exact mechanism of their antitumor effects.Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that in spite of the recent evidence that saffroncan have an inhibitory effect on experimental tumorigenesis and chemicalcarcinogenesis, the mechanism(s) of these effects remains unclear.

One general mechanism which has been proposed for the chemical preventionof tumorigenesis is a cytotoxic effect on tumor cells which prevents theirproliferation and thus prevents the appearance of a tumor from the originaltransformed cell(s). Several of the studies described above have in fact demonstratedan inhibitory effect of saffron extract on cell proliferation. One of the mostconsistently observed cellular biochemical effects of saffron is its inhibitory effecton cellular DNA and RNA synthesis (Abdullaev and Frenkel 1992a,b, Nair et al.1991a). It should be noted that in contrast to many cytotoxic agents, saffronextract has no significant inhibitory effect on cellular protein synthesis (Abdullaevand Frenkel 1992a,b). Of particular interest is the observation that saffron extractinhibited DNA and RNA synthesis in malignant human cells (irrespective of whether

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (125)

SAFFRON IN BIOLOGICAL AND MEDICAL RESEARCH 109

they originated from a tumor or from the transformation of normal cells in vitro)but had no detectable inhibitory effect on synthesis in non-malignant human cells(Abdullaev and Frenkel 1992a, b).

Taken as a whole, these findings suggest that the inhibitory effect of saffron onnucleic acid synthesis could represent a biochemical basis for its inhibitory effecton tumor-cell proliferation. The question has thus arisen of whether the inhibitionof nucleic acid synthesis is in fact a direct effect of saffron, or the result of someother primary effect on the cell. This has been investigated by examining the effectof saffron on DNA and RNA synthesis in a cell-free system (isolated nuclei)(Abdullaev and Frenkel 1992a). The finding that saffron extract had no effect onthe synthesis of DNA and RNA in isolated nuclei supports the conclusion that theinhibitory effect of saffron on cellular nucleic acid synthesis is probably not due toa direct effect on the synthetic reactions.

Several mechanisms have been proposed for the antitumor effect of the caro-tenoid constituents of saffron. The observation (Nair et al. 1992) that the antitumoreffect of the extract could be demonstrated only when the drug was given orallybut not when given intraperitoneally led to the hypothesis that prior metabolismof the active component/s may be required for its/their antitumor activity.Specifically, crocin is suggested to exert its antitumor effect via its metabolicconversion to a retinoid.

A second proposed mechanism for the antitumor action of carotenoids is basedupon the widely accepted hypothesis that these compounds function as inhibitorsof free radical chain reactions (Bruce 1983, Burton and Ingold 1984). Mostcarotenoids are lipid-soluble and thus might be expected to act as membrane-associated high-efficiency free-radical scavengers (Burton and Ingold 1984). Thismechanism, involving the radical-trapping potential of carotenoids, has receivedsupport from computational molecular modeling studies (Neidle and Jenkins 1991,Martin 1991). A third mechanism involves the interaction of carotenoids withtopoisomerase II, an enzyme involved in cellular DNA replication (Morjani et al.1993). This idea is supported by the nuclear localization of some carotenoids(Manfait et al. 1991), as well as by their inhibitory effects on cellular DNA synthesis(see above). A fourth suggested mechanism is that the cytotoxic effect of crocin ismediated via apoptosis (Wyllie 1992).

CONCLUSION

As a result of a variety of recent studies, there is now convincing evidence forthe biological activity of saffron and its constituents. These scientific findings,together with the body of anecdotal evidence for its therapeutic activity againsta number of diseases, have provided strong indications that saffron and/or itscomponents may prove to be useful agents in modern medicine. Future scientificinvestigations will undoubtedly focus on examining this possibility inappropriate animal models of human diseases. Additional studies will also berequired to gain further understanding of the mechanism(s) of the biologicaleffects of saffron. Such studies will undoubtedly uncover new biological

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (126)

F.I.ABDULLAEV AND G.D.FRENKEL110

activities and new potential applications. An important aspect of this will bethe continuation and extension of current investigations on the identificationand characterization of the biologically active compounds in saffron, and thedefinition of their modes of action at the molecular level.

One of the biological activities of saffron which has the greatest potential medicalapplicability is its ability to inhibit carcinogenesis. As described above, recent studieshave shown that saffron extract possesses antitumor activity against transplantedtumors and anticarcinogenic activity against chemically induced car-cinogenesisin vivo as well as cytotoxic effects on tumor-derived cells in vitro. Furthermore,the levels of saffron extract which were active in these experiments were nontoxic.These findings have raised the possibility that natural saffron and/or some of itsconstituents might be used as alternative antitumor or anticarcinogenic agents,either alone or in combination with synthetic substances having anticancer activity.Further investigation into the mechanisms of action of saffron extract will beimportant in this area as well. Once greater insight is achieved at the cellular andbiochemical level, it should be possible to better assess which other agents arelikely to act together with saffron in a synergistic manner. It should also be possibleto better predict which types of protocols (e.g. chemopreventive or chemotherapeu-tic) are most likely to be successful, both in animal models and ultimately in humandisease.

Natural plant extracts in general have proven to be an important source ofantitumor agents, and compounds extracted from plants still provide some of themost original and promising approaches for discovering new drugs. The studiesdescribed here provide initial indications that this is likely to prove true for saffronas well. It is reasonable to presume that at this point, we have only begun toscratch the surface of the potential applications of saffron in human health anddisease.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors wish to thank Drs. Morimoto, Nair, Ni, Shoyama and Tarantilis, forproviding their papers and helpful assistance.

REFERENCES

Abdullaev, F.L (1993) Biological effects of saffron. BioFactors, 4, 83–86.Abdullaev, F.I. (1994) Inhibitory effect of crocetin on intracellular nucleic acid synthesis in

malignant cells. Toxicology Lett, 70, 243–251.Abdullaev, F.I. and Frenkel, G.D. (1992a) Effect of saffron on cell colony formation and

cellular nucleic acid and protein synthesis. BioFactors, 3, 201–204.Abdullaev, F.L and Frenkel, G.D. (1992b) The effect of saffron on intracellular DNA,

RNA and protein synthesis in malignant and non-malignant human cells. BioFactors,4, 38–41.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (127)

SAFFRON IN BIOLOGICAL AND MEDICAL RESEARCH 111

Abdullaev, F.I., MacVicar, C. and Frenkel, G.D. (1992c) Inhibition by selenium of DNAand RNA synthesis in normal and malignant human cells in vitro. Cancer Lett, 65,43–49.

Abdullaev, F.I. and Gonzalez de Mejia, E. (1996) Inhibition of colony formation of Helacells by naturally occurring and synthetic agents. BioFactors, 6, 1–6.

Bruce, N.A. (1983) Dietary carcinogens and anticarcinogens. Oxygen radicals anddegenerative diseases. Science, 221, 1256–1264.

Burton, G.W. and Ingold, K,U. (1984) ß-carotene: An unusual type of lipid antioxidant.Science, 224, 569–573.

Castellar, M.R., Montijano, H., Manjon, A. and Iborra, J.L. (1993) Preparative high-performance liquid chromatographic purification of saffron secondary metabolites.J.Chromatography, 648, 187–190.

Combs G.F. and Combs, S.B. (1986) The Role of Selenium in Nutrition. Academic Press,Orlando, FL.

Damirov, I.A., Prilipko, L.I., Shukurov, D.Z. and Kerimov, J.B. (1988) Remedy Plants ofAzerbaijan. Maarif, Baku, Azerbaijan, pp. 90–93.

Escribano, J., Alonso, G.L., Coca-Prados, M. and Fernàndez, J.A. (1996) Crocin, safranaland picrocrocin from saffron (Crocus sativus L.) inhibit the growth of human cancercells in vitro. Cancer Letters, 100, 23–30.

Gainer, J.L. and Jones, J.R. (1975) The use of crocetin in experimental atherosclerosis.Experientia, 31, 548–549.

Isa, T. (1992) Antioxidative property of the anthraquinone-pigment from the cultured cellsof saffron, and enzymatic comparison between some cultured cells. Shokubutsu SoshikiBaiyo, 9, 51–53.

Kasumov, F.J. (1970) The Extract of Saffron Flowers. GosPlan Press, Baku, Azerbaijan.Liakopoulou-Kyriakides, M. and Skubas, A.I. (1990) Characterization of the platelet

aggregation inducer and inhibitor isolated from Crocus sativus. BiochemistryInternational, 22, 103–110.

Manfait, M., Morjani, H., Efremov, R., Angibousi, J.F., Polissiou, M. and Nabiev, F.(1991) High sensitive detection of intracellular carotenoids in single living cancercells as probed by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy. In R.E.Hester andR.B.Giring (eds.), Spectroscopy of Biological Molecules, Royal Society of Chemistry,UK, pp. 303–304.

Martin, Y.C. (1991) Computer-associated rational drug design. In: J.Langone (ed.), Methodsin Enzymology, Molecular Design and Modeling: Concepts and Applications, Vol. 203Part B: Antibodies and Antigens, Nucleic Acids, Polysaccharides, and Drugs, AcademicPress, New York, pp. 587–613.

Miwa, T. (1954) Study on Gardenia florida L. (Fructus gardeniae) as a remedy for icterus.Japanese J.Pharmacol, 4, 69–73.

Morimoto, S., Umezaki, Y., Shoyama, Y., Saito, H., Nishi, K. and Irino, N. (1994) Post-harvest degradation of carotenoid glucose esters in saffron. Planta Med, 60, 438–440.

Morjani, H., Tantilis, P., Polissiou, M. and Manfait, M. (1990) Growth inhibition andinduction of erythroid differentiation activity by crocin, dimethylcrocetin and b-caroteneon K562 tumor cells. Anticancer Res., 10, 1398–1406.

Morjani, H., Riou, J.F., Nabiev, Y, Lavlle, F. and Manfait, M. (1993) Molecular and cellularinteraction between intoplicine, DNA and topoisomerase II studied by surface-enhancedRaman scattering spectroscopy. Cancer Res., 53, 4784–4790.

Nadkarni, K.M. (1976) Crocus sativus, Nigella sativa. In K.M.Nadkarni (ed.) Indian MateriaMedica,, Popular Prakashan, Bombay, pp. 386–411.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (128)

F.I.ABDULLAEV AND G.D.FRENKEL112

Nair, S.C., Pannikar, B. and Panikkar, K.R. (1991a) Antitumor activity of saffron (Crocussativus). Cancer Lett., 57, 109–114.

Nair, S.C., Salomi, M.J., Panikkar, B. and Panikkar, K.R. (1991b) Modulatory effects of theextracts of saffron and Nigella sativa against cisplatinum induced toxicity in mice. J.Ethnopharmacol., 31, 75–83.

Nair, S.C, Salomi, M.J., Varghese, C.D., Panikkar, B. and Panikkar, K.R. (1992) Effect ofsaffron on thymocyte proliferation, intracellular glutathione levels and its antitumoractivity. BioFactors, 4, 51–54.

Nair, S.C., Varghese, C.D., Panikkar, K.R., Kummboor, S.K. and Parathod, R.K. (1994)Effects of saffron on vitamin A levels and its antitumor activity on growth of solidtumors in mice. Int. J.Pharmacog., 32, 105–114.

Neidle, S. and Jenkins, T.C. (1991) Molecular modeling to study DNA interaction byantitumor drugs. In J.Langone, (ed.), Methods in Enzymology, Molecular Design andModeling: Concepts and Applications, Vol. 203 Part B: Antibodies and Antigens, Nucleicacids, Polysaccharides, and Drugs, Academic Press, New York, pp. 433–458.

Ni, X. (1992) Research progress on the saffron (Crocus sativus). Zhongcaoyao, 23, 100–107.Pfander, H. and Witwer, F. (1975) Untersuchungen Zur Carotinoid-Zusammensetzung in

Safran. Helv. Chim. Acta, 58, 1608–1620.Salomi, M.J., Nair, S.C. and Panikkar, K.R. (1990) Inhibitory effects of Nigella sativa and

saffron (Crocus sativus) on chemical carcinogenesis in mice and its non-mutagenicactivity. Proc. Ker. Sci Congress, 3, 125.

Salomi, M.J., Nair, S.C. and Panikkar, K.R. (1991a) Inhibitory effects of Nigella sativa andsaffron (Crocus sativus) on chemical carcinogenesis in mice. Nutrition and Cancer, 16,67–72.

Salomi, M.J., Nair, S.C. and Panikkar, K.R. (1991b) Inhibitory effects of Nigella sativa andsaffron (Crocus sativus) on chemical carcinogenesis in mice and its non-mutagenicactivity. Proc. Ker. Sci. Congress, 3, 344–345.

Sugiura, M., Shoyama, Y., Saito, H. and Abe, K. (1994) Crocin (crocetin di-gentiobioseester) prevents the inhibitory effect of ethanol on long-term potentiation in the dentategyrus in vivo. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther., 271, 703–707.

Sugiura, M., Saito, H. and Abe, K. (1995a) Ethanol extract of Crocus sativus L. antagonizesthe inhibitory action of ethanol on hippocampal long-term potentiation in vivo.Phytotherapy Res., 9, 100–104.

Sugiura, M., Shoyama, Y., Saito, H. and Abe, K. (1995b) The effects of ethanol and crocinon the induction of long-term potentiation in the CAl region of rat hippocampal slices.Jap. J. Pharmacol., 67, 395–397.

Sugiura, M., Shoyama, Y., Saito, H. and Nishiyama, N. (1995c) Crocin improves theethanolinduced impairment of learning behaviors of mice in passive avoidance tasks.Proceedings of the Japan Academy, 71, ser. B, 10, 319–324.

Sujata, V., Ravishankar, G.A. and Venkataraman, L.V. (1992) Methods for the analysis ofthe saffron metabolites crocin, crocetins, picrocrocin and safranal for the determinationof the quality for the spice using thin-layer chromatography, high-performance liquidchromatography and gas chromatography. J.Chromatography, 624, 497–502.

Suzhou New Medical College (1977) Dictionary of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ZhongYao Da Zi Dian) Vol. 2. Shanghai People’s Publication House, Shanghai, pp. 2622–2623.

Tarantilis, P.A., Polissiou, M., Morjani, H., Avot, P., Bei Jebbar, A. and Manfait, M. (1992)Anticancer activity and structure of retinoic acid and carotenoids of Crocus sativus L.on HL60 cells. Anticancer Res., 12, 1989–1992.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (129)

SAFFRON IN BIOLOGICAL AND MEDICAL RESEARCH 113

Tarantilis, P.A., Morjani, H., Polissiou, M. and Manfait, M. (1994) Inhibition of growthand induction of differentiation of promyelocytic leukemia (HL-60) by carotenoidsfrom Crocus sativus L. Anticancer Res., 14, 1913–1918.

Wyllie, A.H. (1992) Apoptosis and the regulation of cell numbers in normal and neoplastictissues: an overview. Cancer Metastasis Rev., 11, 95–103.

Zhang, Y., Shoyama, Y., Sugiura, M. and Saito, H. (1994) Effects of Crocus sativus L. onthe ethanol-induced impairment of passive avoidance performances in mice. Biol. Pharm.Bull., 17, 217–221.

Zhou, Q., Sun, Y. and Zhang, X. (1987) Saffron, Crocus sativus L. J. Traditional ChineseMed., 28, 59–61.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (130)

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (131)

115

11. MECHANIZED SAFFRON CULTIVATION,INCLUDING HARVESTING

PIER FRANCESCO GALIGANI and FRANCESCO GARBATI PEGNA

Dipartimento di Ingegneria Agraria e Forestale, Università degli Studi diFirenze, P. le delle

Cascine, 15–50144 Firenze—I, Italia

ABSTRACT Saffron is quite a difficult crop to mechanize since the plant is smalland delicate and in some phases, such as harvest or corm gathering and planting,rather complicated to handle. However, some common tools, created mainly forother cultivated plants, can be successfully adapted for use in most cultural phases:some of the tools, tested in specific trials, are described and evaluated togetherwith others particularly designed for the cultivation of saffron.

Saffron cultivation is not highly mechanized, even in this day and age: although itrequires high labour input during the most important growing phases, there areno machines capable of totally mechanizing this crop, and research up to now hasalways tried to adapt existing machinery to each individual phase of its cultivation,rather than design specific machines.

The reasons for this can be attributed to the delicacy of certain operations andto the marginal nature of this type of cultivation. In fact, corms are very delicateand need to be handled with care; they also vary considerably in size, and thismakes mechanical handling difficult. Moreover production is limited to a smallanatomical part of the plant which is difficult to reach and to separate out.

Although it is certainly possible to overcome these difficulties—agriculturalmechanization has tackled far more complex problems—the low profitability ofsaffron has placed it in such a marginal position, especially in countries wherelabour costs are higher and where mechanization would therefore be more useful,that it is not economically viable to invest resources in searching for valid solutions.In fact the limited amount of land generally devoted to this crop does not encouragemanufacturers to take an interest in the sector as investments are unlikely to berepaid by the sale of their products.

Nonetheless, between 1980 and 1985, the problem of mechanized saffroncultivation was faced in Italy, within the framework of research into medicinalplants funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (M.A.F.). This resultedin the identification of certain possible working hypotheses, without, however,yielding any concrete results in the most complex phases of the growing cycle,namely pistil collection and stamen separation (M.A.F. 1981, 1982, 1983).

This study (to which reference will continually be made hereafter owing to thescarcity of other sources of experimental data on the subject), while stressing thediffculties involved in carrying out most of the operations that are characteristicof saffron growing, has nonetheless produced some results. It is interesting to note

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (132)

P.F.GALIGANI AND F.GARBATI PEGNA116

that adapting machines already available for other crops can lead to considerablesavings in labour for some of the more complex operations. Experiments on saffron,including mechanical cultivation, are still under way in Italy, including the area ofSan Gimignano in the province of Siena, where this crop, once very important forthe local economy (Landi 1996), is now being reintroduced.

A series of trials enabled a determination of the workload involved in performingeach of the growing operations as they are done in Italy, using the tested machinery(Adamo et al. 1987). Considerably varied data emerged from this study, dueprincipally to the small size of the plots used for saffron growing and their variablephysical and agronomic characteristics. However, although expressed in meanvalues, these data (Table 11.1) are a useful reference for those who wish to evaluatethe efficacy of the various options for mechanization.

In summary, saffron growing can, in part, be performed using commerciallyavailable agricultural machinery as is or following some simple adjustments, butcertain operations must still be done by hand. This is especially true in the moredelicate phases, for which specially built equipment could be used to aid in theoperations, but for which total mechanization is difficult to envisage. This problem,however, should be more specifically analysed, focusing on the state of the art andproviding a starting point for further improvements: we therefore present a briefdescription of the various phases of saffron growing, with a few remarks on thepossibilities for mechanization, on the basis of experiments conducted within theaforementioned M.A.F. project.

PREPARATION FOR PLANTING

Preparation of the land for saffron planting generally involves tilling the soil to adepth of approximately 300 mm and then improving it. This operation is notdifficult to mechanize since tilling and improving can be performed using the usualequipment available on most farm estates, while in the case of the small familyfarms which do not take part in large-scale farming activities, a suitably equippedwalking tractor is sufficient: a 10-kW walking tractor with a ridge plough andhoeing machine enables an area of 1000 m2 to be worked in about 2 h and to beimproved in about 1 h.

When preparing the soil it is, however, very important to avoid water stagnation,which is very dangerous for this crop, so the ground is often prepared in ridges tohelp the water drain off. The ridges can be made in various ways, but the bestimplement is any kind of ridger which, with a little effort, can be combined withthe machines used for planting vegetative material. In the trials conducted in Italywith a ridger alone, or in combination with a potato planter (described furtheron), it was possible to make ridges about 150 mm high and 1 m wide separated byfurrows of about 300 mm (Galigani 1987). However, the rate of this type of machinevaries according to the conditions of use, fluctuating between 2 and 10 h/1000 m2

(Amato et al. 1989).Basic fertilization can also be performed using the usual commercially available

equipment, although in view of the small size of the plots it is often done by

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (133)

ME

CH

AN

IZE

D SA

FF

RO

N C

ULT

IVA

TIO

N, IN

CL

UD

ING

HA

RV

EST

ING

11

7

Table 11.1 Time required and methods of performing the principal growing operations at Navelli (h/1000 m2)

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (134)

P.F.GALIGANI AND F.GARBATI PEGNA118

hand. For annual fertilization, conveyor feed distributors can be used to avoidburning the leaves, as may happen when applying urea during the vegetativeperiod (Galigani 1987).

PLANTING

The saffron corm poses many problems with regard to the mechanization ofplanting, because the vegetative material is small and delicate and requires regularand correctly oriented placement.

The most suitable machines for this operation are onion planters, whichnevertheless need to be slightly modified, in particular to adapt them to the size ofthe corms. The machinery we tested is of the type carried by the three-point linkageon any kind of tractor, even a light two-wheel-drive tractor. It has a 1.5-m workingwidth and consists of a bulb hopper and a series of scoop wheels which lift thecorms out of the hopper and drop them into a funnel. This funnel has a furrowingunit at the bottom and a covering unit at the rear end. The planting distancesalong the row can be varied between 20 and 120 mm, by altering the transmissionratios connecting the scoop wheels to one of the rear wheels. The machine weighsabout 400 kg when empty.

An important drawback of this type of machine is that it deposits the corms inthe ground without respecting their polarity, so that some corms are planted leaningaway from their vertical axis and others are even upside down: trials to assess theeffect of unnatural corm positioning (Table 11.2) have shown that a leaning positioncauses a delay in sprouting but increased flower production, whereas the upside-down position causes both a delay in sprouting and a marked decrease inproduction1 (Galigani 1982). The working time with this planter per 1000 m2

arranged in ridges (four rows per ridge with a total of 55,000 corms) is 5 h, vs.over 100 h for manual planting (Figure 11.1).

Another type of machine that can be adapted to saffron planting is the potatoplanter: the corms are placed by hand in the scoops, which are moved in horizontalrows by a wheel resting on the ground, by means of chains. The chains are loweredinto the ground to deposit the corms in the furrows opened by a furrowingimplement located at the front; at the rear, two discs close the furrow.

In the trials, however, only two rows could be planted per ridge, owing to thesize of the implements and to the structure, which is intended for only two operators.

Table 11.2 Influence of planting position of corms on the time of emergence and on production

1 Other authors have reported a 60% reduction in blossom of tilted corms.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (135)

MECHANIZED SAFFRON CULTIVATION, INCLUDING HARVESTING 119

Moreover it was not possible to adjust the distance along the row to less than 150mm. Overall, this machine was found to give a lower yield than the onion planterbut to provide better control over corm orientation (Galigani 1987, Galigani andAdamo 1987, Tammaro 1990).

The potato planter can also be combined with a ridger to prepare and plant ina single operation. This combination produces satisfactory results, reducing theworking times (ridging and planting) per 1000 m2 to 24 h (8 h/1000 m2 for amachine with three operators) (Amato et al. 1989).

With regard to trials in Italy, during the 1980s tests were carried out involvingburying zinc-mesh cages with a U cross-section (1000×80×60 mm) containing thecorms: this was meant to facilitate the subsequent extraction of the corms fromthe earth at the end of the cycle (Figure 11.2). This solution was slightly betterthan the traditional method in terms of the time involved, but the cages wereeasily damaged, carrying the consequent risk of a considerable increase in costs(Galigani 1987); each cage can be expected to last for 3 years. The working timesinvolved for an area of 1000 m2 are reported in Table 11.3. Although the cagesystem seems to provide the operator with more comfort, it has not met expectationsdue to the tendency of the cages to warp and of the corms to slide about inside thecages during removal, consequently causing variations in planting density.

WEEDING AND CULTIVATION

The problem of weeds in the first year of cultivation is practically non-existent asblossoms sprout a reasonably short time after having cleared the terrain for thepre-planting stage.

Figure 11.1

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (136)

P.F.GALIGANI AND F.GARBATI PEGNA120

In perennial crops with no ridging, normal hoeing operations can be executedat the beginning of the second year, the work being finished manually or with theaid of a rotating hoe applied to a back-mounted scrub-clearing machine.2 Moreoften, however, repeated milling or superficial harrowing are effected with normaltools, even those transported on light tractors. If the terrain has been ridged, onthe other hand, it is necessary to use two-wheel tractors, taking care not to till atdepths below 20 or 30 mm because of the tendency of new corms to growincreasingly close to the surface. Mulching also gives good results, especially usingwood chips or sawdust.

Alternatively, spring or summer mowing can be carried out to eliminate theinfesting weeds together with any residual crop leaves, which in any case would belost in the summer stagnation. The mowed vegetation can be made into hay andused as animal fodder. Otherwise flaming can be applied, using suitable commerciallyavailable equipment: these machines can be carried on the back or on a hand-propelledtrolley. The results with the latter technique are good as far as young weeds are

Figure 11.2

2 This is a small cutter with vertical axis, made by adapting a scrub-clearing machine with a combustionengine, and carried on the back. The blade is replaced with an eccentric mass disk and a counterdiskequipped with points [Z],

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (137)

MECHANIZED SAFFRON CULTIVATION, INCLUDING HARVESTING 121

concerned, if weeding is performed during the hottest, driest hours of the day.Otherwise plants must be kept in contact with the flame as long as possible, becauseof a sizeable reduction in the operative capabilities of the system (Galigani 1987,Galigani and Adamo 1987).

In terms of production, no significant differences between mulching, flamingand hoeing have been noted in the tests, although of the three, mulching is theleast labour-intensive technique (Landi 1996). Chemical weeding does not seemadvisable for this type of crop because it may pollute the product.

BLOSSOM COLLECTION

Saffron flowers are normally hand-picked in the early morning hours, when thecorolla is still closed, because of the better quality obtained. Average productionper hectare fluctuates around 5000 kg. Work is lengthy and hard-going, as thepicker has to assume a very uncomfortable, stooping position and must cut eachblossom at the base of the corolla, at most using his thumbnail. Mean hourlyproductivity per person is estimated at between 8 and 16 kg (2000–4000 flowers).

The simplest solution would seem to be the use of mowing or grass-cuttingmachines which have been especially calibrated to cut the blossoms very low down,collecting up the mowed vegetation and then separating the flowers from the leaves.However, it has not so far been possible to do so on account of saffron’s gradedflowering times and because cutting off the leaves adversely affects the corm’sfuture chances of development (Tammaro 1990).

For these reasons, harvesting is considered one of the most difficult operationsto mechanise, given the delicacy and precision required. Indeed, the sensitivity ofthis operation does not permit the use of any of today’s commercially availablemachinery, and custom-designing and fabricating one seems a very complexexercise. Furthermore, as saffron is a marginal crop, it is unlikely that the effortrequired to solve the problem would be economically worthwhile. The only direc-tion to follow thus seems to be to obtain facilitating tools by adapting equipmentwhich is already commercially available.

Some tests have been performed by adapting a vacuum machine for collectingolives or dry leaves from the ground. This machine can be back-mounted andconsists of a 40 cc engine driving a suction fan linked to a metal pipe. Horizontalscissors controlled manually from above are applied to the end of the pipe (Figure11.3). Two small wheels maintain the height of flower cutting above the ground ata constant level (about 40 mm) (M.A.F. 1981).

Table 11.3 Workload required for 1000 m2 using the cage system

*total time for building=225 h, duration 3 years: workload for each year=75 h.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (138)

P.F.GALIGANI AND F.GARBATI PEGNA122

This device has proven valid operationally, but not economically because of thelow yield and the high percentage of product which is passed over: cutting theblossoms at ground height does not allow the picking of the whole style. In anycase, leaves and other impurities get mixed in. Besides, picking in the early hoursmeans the inconvenience of closed flowers which are more aerodynamic and notso easy to suck up. Other disadvantages arise in the next stage of crop sortingbecause of the higher amount of impurities (M.A.F. 1983). The device describedhere consequently turns out to be useful for improving the operator’s work stancerather than his productivity (M.A.F. 1982, Galigani 1987).

However, mechanized harvesting using this method seems to have a negativeeffect on the colouring power of the spice, whereas the potency of the bitter flavourappears to be stimulated to some degree, probably because the motion of suckingup under a draught accelerates the drying process, encouraging the transformationof picrocrocin into saffranal, and also because mechanical cutting eliminates someof the basal portion of the stigma.

A simpler solution seems to be that of continuing to cut the blossoms by hand,but facilitating their placement into containers by using the described suckingsystem. However, the scissors would have to be removed and the machine placedin a position which allows closed flowers to be sucked up as well. This wouldseem possible through the use of facilitating machines of the type used for pickingasparagus or strawberries: the picker’s stance would be improved and the harvestingbags brought nearer to ground level, thereby allowing the blossoms to be suckedup. A machine of this kind is under study at the moment at our department inFlorence.

Figure 11.3

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (139)

MECHANIZED SAFFRON CULTIVATION, INCLUDING HARVESTING 123

SEPARATION OF THE STIGMAS

Average hourly productivity in this activity per person fluctuates between 500 and1500 blossoms, and the time needed to separate the flowers produced over 1000m2 (about 140,000) therefore varies from 93 to 280 h.

Sorting is always done by hand, even though attempts have been made toseparate the styles from the stamens and petals by means of a wind tunnelconsisting of a variable-section pipe which exposes the cut flowers to an airdraught made up of various vortices. The styles remain, but they are sometimesattached to the perianth to which they are naturally joined in the basal sectionof the pistil. This also happens in flowers gathered by cutting and sucking up, asthe two parts of the flower are still joined (despite the cut separating that part ofthe pistil attached to the base of the perianth from the free part) because of thehigh internal humidity of the blossom, due to harvesting in the early morning.Reduction in humidity by means of drying after harvesting does not resolve theproblem, since the corolla curls and causes the pistils to cling together evenmore tenaciously (M.A.F. 1981, 1982, Galigani 1987).

In a simplified version of this appliance, the petals are separated from the stamensby a fan and then separated manually or by means of a flat or cylindrical ironscreen, but this operation also needs to be completed by hand (Skrubis 1990). Theuse of vibrating boards has not proven suitable either, in separating the stigmasfrom the stamens and petals (Galigani and Adamo 1987).

DRYING

Drying is generally carried out on silk trays placed on shelves in a dark,stoveheated dryer for about 12 h. The time needed using this technique to drythe produce from 1000 m2 (5–6 kg) is about 17 h. Alternatively, dehydrationchambers have been tried out in laboratories where the crop is maintained at atemperature of 48°C for 3 h. The results are good (Skrubis 1990) in terms oftime, but the use of electrical dryers seems to decrease the crop’s organolepticqualities (Tammaro 1990).

Once the drying stage is over, the crop may be ground into a powder. Electriccoffee-grinders have proven useful for this operation (Tammaro 1990).

CORM GATHERING

The most common uprooting method is manual, by means of a hoe or small ploughwith a single or double ploughshare which, on turning over the soil, brings thecorms to the surface to be hand-picked. To facilitate this second operation, ploughswith open mouldboards are often employed (Figure 11.4).

Otherwise bulb—or tuber-picking machines may be used. In either case, specificadaptations need to be made. For example, the use of common potato diggers is

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (140)

P.F.GALIGANI AND F.GARBATI PEGNA124

possible, regulated so as to reduce the depth of digging and increase the workfront,in consideration of the more superficial collocation of the saffron corms in theground and their very limited size as compared to potatoes. Even the vibratinggrid at the back which sorts the produce that has been dug up must be modified bythickening the links (Galigani 1987, Galigani and Adamo 1987).

In trials carried out during the M.A.F. project cited earlier, a potato-pickingmachine drawn by a two-wheel-drive tractor weighing 270 kg was used with success(Figure 11.5). This machine consists of a neoprene frame with a front three-pointedploughshare of semi-cylindrical shape followed by a rod-iron grid normally placedin the feed direction. The grid is hinged at one end and is made to swing by aneccentric moved by the power take-off. Work depth is regulated to 150–180 mm.Use of the original version of this machine has pinpointed the usefulness of theabove modifications so as to have a three-pointed ploughshare and a longervibrating grid with thicker links and more teeth when undersized corms are to begathered. Either way, results have been satisfactory, especially in bare stony soil,and the loss of the smaller, hardly commercially viable, cormels does not affect theeconomy of the operation (Galigani 1982, M.A.F. 1982, Amato et al. 1989).

Figure 11.4

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (141)

MECHANIZED SAFFRON CULTIVATION, INCLUDING HARVESTING 125

In trials carried out with the aforementioned cages, retrieval of a greater numberof corms as compared to cultivation in free soil is possible, but the average size ofthe corms is inferior and work hours are not substantially reduced. When, onoperating between the rows with a three-element cultivator, the cages have beenuncovered, it is then necessary to finish the work by hand with a hoe. The cagesare lifted manually and emptied onto sheets where the corms can be cleaned (M.A.F.1983). This technique does not seem very viable economically, especially on accountof the laborious operation and the high cost of the cages.

CONCLUSIONS

The mechanization of saffron cultivation presents various difficulties, linked mostlyto the particular characteristics of the plant,3 the localization of the crop and themarginality of its cultivation. However, some of the cultivation phases may makeuse of machines used in other, more frequently practised crop cultivation which,with simple adaptations (or at times even without), allow a considerable reductionin man hours.

Regarding other operations, and specifically the harvesting, sorting and processingof the stigmas,4 mechanized methods still need to be invented, even though todaywe have at our disposal studies on the subject highlighting the main problems andindicating some possible solutions. Mechanizing these stages does, however, assume

Figure 11.5

3 Note that working on a genetically sterile plant imposes a considerable obstacle to mechanisation.4 In saffron cultivation as presently carried out in Italy, 40% of labour is taken by stigmas’ separation,15% by blossom picking and 5% by toasting and packaging.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (142)

P.F.GALIGANI AND F.GARBATI PEGNA126

a certain degree of modernization in saffron cultivation, to move it from traditionalagriculture on a small scale carried out by small farmers on marginal land, to amore dynamic agriculture where the cost of designing and making specific machinesis paid for by the expansion of allotments, and economies of scale may compensatefor the inevitable decline in care in the execution of each operation.

This course of action bodes well, however, because of the very high productionvalue. Unfortunately, today this value involves costs that are just as high. Hencelabour remuneration turns out to be equal to that of other, less valuable crops,consequently severely limiting the convenience of this cultivation.

REFERENCES

Adamo, A., Cozzi, M., Galigani, P.F., Vannucci, D. and Vieri, M. (1987) Fabbisogno dimanodopera nelle operazioni colturali dello Zafferano, in Atti, Convegno sulla coltivazionedelle piante officinali, Trento 9–10 ottobre 1986, ed. A.Bezzi pp. 451–452, IstitutoSperimentale per l’Assestamento Forestale e per l’Alpicoltura, Villazzano (Trento).

Amato, A., Amelotti, G., Bianchi, A., Galigani, P.F., Montorfano, P. and Zanzucchi, C.(1989) Zafferano, fonte di reddito alternativo per le zone svantaggiate. Agricoltura,196, 101–128.

Galigani, P.F. (1982) Progetto Piante Officinali: Relazione dell’attività svolta dall’UnitàOperativa dell’ Istituto di Meccanica Agraria e Meccanizazione della Facoltà di Agrariadell’Università di Firenze nel II anno di ricerca 1981–1982. Unpublished.

Galigani, P.F. (1987) La meccanizzazione delle colture di salvia, lavanda, zafferano e genziana,in Atti, Convegno sulla coltivazione delle piante officinali, Trento 9–10 ottobre 1986,ed. A.Bezzi, pp. 221–234, Istituto Sperimentale per l’Assestamento Forestale e perl’Alpicoltura, Villazzano (Trento).

Galigani, P.F. and Adamo, A. (1987) Le macchine per le officinali. Terra &. Vita, 10, 62–7.Landi, R. (1996) Relazione sull’attività svolta dall’Associazione “II Croco” di S. Giminiano

nell’ambito del programa di ricerche condotte con il contributo della Regione Toscana—1994–1996.

M.A.F. (1981) Progetto piante officinali: stato della sperimentazione e risulati del primoanno di attività—Ministero dell’Agricoltura e delle Foreste—Istituto Sperimentale perl’Asestamento Fortestale e per l’Alpicolturta di Trento.

M.A.F. (1982) Progetto piante officinali: stato della sperimentazione e risulati del secondoanno di attività—Ministero dell’Agricoltura e delle Foreste—Istituto Sperimentale perl’Assestamento Fortestale e per l’Alpicolturta di Trento.

M.A.F. (1983) Progetto piante officinali: stato della sperimentazione e risulati del terzoanno di attività—Ministero dell’Agricoltura e delle Foreste—Istituto Sperimentale perl’Assestamento Fortestale e per l’Alpicolturta di Trento.

Skrubis, B. (1990) The cultivation in Greece of Crocus sativus L. Proceedings of theInternational Conference on Saffron (Crocus sativus L.), L’Aquila (Italy) October, 27–291989, eds. F.Tammaro and L. Marra, pp. 171–182, Università degli Studi dell’Aquila,Accademia Italiana della Cucina, L’Aquila.

Tammaro, F. (1990) Crocus sativus L. cv. Piano di Navelli—L’Aquila (L’Aquila saffron):environment, cultivation, morphometric characteristics, active principles, uses.Proceedings of the International Conference on Saffron (Crocus Sativus L.) L’Aquila(Italy) October, 27–29 1989, eds. F. Tammaro and L.Marra, pp. 47–98, Universitàdegli Studi dell’Aquila, Accademia Italiana della Cucina, L’Aquila.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (143)

127

12. STERILITY AND PERSPECTIVES FOR GENETICIMPROVEMENT OF CROCUS SATIVUS L.

GIUSEPPE CHICHIRICCÒ

Department of Environmental Sciences,University of L’Aquila,

Via Vetoio, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy

ABSTRACT In the saffron crocus, the developmental potential of the spore mothercells is limited by their triploid genome which causes meiotic abnormalities, followedby variations in sporogenesis and gametogenesis. As a result, abnormalgametophytes are generated. However, the reproductive system of the saffroncrocus, like that of fertile Crocus species, supports interspecific crosses with relatedspecies. This potential cross-compatibility, together with in vitro methods whichraise successful seed set, may open the door to breeding programmes for the geneticimprovement of the saffron crocus.

INTRODUCTION

The reproductive cycle of angiosperms includes two generations, sporophytic(diploid) and gametophytic (haploid). The gametophytic generation is extremelyreduced; the male (pollen) consists of a vegetative cell and two sperm cells, andthe female (embryo sac) of seven cells, including the gametic cells (egg cell andcentral cell). The union of sperm cells with the female gametes (doublefertilization) requires the development of a pollen tube to convey sperm cellsthrough the pistil to the embryo sac. Pollen-tube development results from acontinuous interaction with the transmitting tissue of the pistil; the interactionis controlled by genetic systems which prevent growth after either cross- or in-breeding (see De Nettancourt 1977). The transition from sporophytic togametophytic generations occurs via the meiotic process. This comprises a seriesof coordinated developmental stages of the sporocyte, also correlated with thedevelopment of the surrounding sporangium tissues. Any developmentalabnormality during meiosis may result in gametophytic sterility. A factor usuallyassociated with abnormal meiosis is polyploidy. The pollen of polyploid plants,especially triploids, shows a variable degree of pollen sterility (see Carroll 1966).Female sterility is less known because it is difficult to evaluate.

This chapter reviews studies on the reproductive system of the saffron crocus(Crocus sativus L.), and its potential with respect to future perspectives for itsgenetic improvement.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (144)

G.CHICHIRICCÒ128

KARYOLOGY

The saffron crocus genome consists of 24 chromosomes, morphologically groupedinto a triplicate set of eight chromosomes each. Its karyotypic configuration showsfew variations within and between European and Asiatic populations (Brighton1977). Heteromorphism has been observed in populations from Majorca, Spain(Brighton 1977), and L’Aquila, Italy (Chichiriccò 1984), the former relative totwo chromosomes and the latter to a single one. The meiotic paring of chromosomesin triplets, as established in Japanese (Karasawa 1933), Italian (Chichiriccò 1984)and Iranian (Ghaffari 1986) populations, asserts autotriploidy. The mean frequencyof trivalents during metaphase I is 7.3 per cell, as evaluated in the Italian population.

The meiotic divisions are characterized by abnormalities typical of polyploids(Chichiriccò 1984, Ghaffari 1986). In meiosis I, irregular chromosome segregationarises from trivalent formation; either one or two chromosomes of each trivalentmay go to one of the spindle poles to be included in the daughter nuclei. As a rule,the sharing of chromosomes between the two poles is rather unbalanced: it variesnumerically from 8 to 15, and imbalance may be caused by lagging chromosomessuch as univalent chromosomes. These either fail to reach the poles, or exhibitalternative segregation through precocious division of the chromatids. The genicunbalance of the nuclei increases through meiosis II, owing to laggards andextrapolar assortment of chromatids during anaphase II. As a result of this erraticchromosome assortment, meiosis culminates in abnormal cytokinesis producing anumber of spores which differ from the standard quartet (Figure 12.1).

Figure 12.1 Longitudinal section of a saffron crocus anther showing tapetal cells (T) and microsporesafter release from tetrad callose (×295).

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (145)

GENETIC IMPROVEMENT OF CROCUS SATIVUS 129

MICROSPOROGENESIS AND POLLEN DEVELOPMENT

Microsporocytes are closely packed within the anther loculi by four cell layers:the tapetum, middle layer, endothecium and epidermis. At meiosis, mycrosporocytesundergo a typical shape change from polyhedral to roundish, and separate fromone another; further, they develop a callose layer interior to the primary wall. Acertain number of microsporocytes are subjected to cytological alterations, suchas cell deformation and/or cytoplasm degeneration (Chichiriccò 1989a). Theseare evident after the formation of the callosic wall, and affect a few to manymicrosporocytes in one or more loculi of the anther. Besides these abnormalities, anumber of unimpaired microsporocytes do not complete meiosis. Not only maymicrosporocyte development fail, but abnormal behaviour of tapetal cells may beconcurrent (Chichiriccò 1989a). This tissue is of secretory type (see Pacini 1990),but it shows some tendency to degenerate precociously, as well as to intrude intothe loculus. Sometimes, it forms a syncytium around the microspores, similar toamoeboid-type tapetum. Cytokinesis is characterized by the formation of eitherdeformed microspore quartets, or an additional (or incomplete) set of microspores.Dissolution of the callosic wall releases microspores; these show differences inboth size and shape (Figure 12.2).

Figure 12.2 Longitudinal section of a saffron crocus ovule showing a pentad of megaspores (x920).

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (146)

G.CHICHIRICCÒ130

Microspore development is heterogeneous from both the cytological andstructural points of view (Chichiriccò 1989a). The exine wall develops to astandard thickness, not exceeding 0.8 µm; it is a microperforate, colpate andspinulose structure covered with pollenkitt The underlying intine wall variesfrom 7.5 to 1 µm in thickness; it consists of two layers, both crossed by tubules,0.25 to 1.5 nm in diameter, which extend to the exine (Grilli Caiola et al. 1985).The inner layer is notable for its thickenings, protruding into the cytoplasm.Microspores developing through mitosis result in a large vegetative cell and afusiform generative cell. This bicellular stage is maintained until after pollendispersion, with sperm cells developing from the generative cell following pollen-tube protrusion. Most pollen grains can hydrolyse starch grains and accumulatelipid globules in the cytoplasm, whereas a lesser number deviate from thisdevelopmental programme, accumulating starch grains instead. At antherdehiscence, the size reached by pollen grains varies from 100 to 45 µm; they areroundish, elliptical or cup-shaped. A main distinction may be made on the basisof cytological features: (i) lipoid pollen grains are densely cytoplasmatic (62%),and (ii) starchy pollen grains are poorly represented in cytoplasm (38%). Anumber of starchy pollen grains include callosic masses which are indicative ofcytoplasm disorganization.

Pollen Viability

According to cytochemical tests, most pollen grains from opening anthers exhibitvital activity; however, only a few live pollen grains germinate successfully.Germination may be defective with respect to either the protrusion or growth ofthe pollen tube. In vitro, the most favourable germination has been established ina liquid medium consisting of sucrose and boron (Chichiriccò and Grilli Caiola1982, 1986), in which 20% of the pollen grains showed germinative activity. Thein vivo germinability averages 50%, and it persists for several days after pollendispersion.

MEGASPOROGENESIS AND EMBRYO-SAC DEVELOPMENT

The megasporocyte is, in the ovular primordium, enveloped by parietal tissue andnucellar epidermis. It gives rise, through meiosis, to either tetrads or polyads (Figure12.1) of megaspores (Chichiriccò 1987). As a rule, the first meiotic division istransverse. The second division may be either transverse or, less frequently, oblique,so the resulting megaspores may be different in both size and shape (Figure 12.1);oblique divisions are recurrent in polyads. During the course of meiosis I, themegasporocyte shows chalazal polarization with regard to starch grains. As aconsequence, these are inherited by either the last chalazal megaspore (tetrads), orthe two last chalazal megaspores (polyads) (see Chichiriccò 1989b). The embryosac develops, according to the Polygonum type, from the viable chalazal megasporeof the tetrads, while the micropylar ones degenerate. In the polyads, the extradistribution of starch grains, probably associated with other factors, may givevitality to both terminal megaspores. In this case, the embryo sac may arise from

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (147)

GENETIC IMPROVEMENT OF CROCUS SATIVUS 131

the penultimate chalazal megaspore, while the ultimate one may remain livingand close to the embryo sac, or both chalazal megaspores may develop, formingtwo adjacent embryo sacs (Chichiriccò 1987). In 60% of the ovules, the functionalmegaspore completes three nuclear divisions followed by cellularization, to give a7-celled embryo sac; this consists of a typical micropylar egg apparatus, a centralcell, and three antipodals partly enclosed in the hypostase. Some recurringcytological features in the egg apparatus, such as the synergids with a well-developed, PAS-positive, filiform apparatus and the starchy egg cell, assertfunctionality of the cellular embryo sacs. In 40% of the ovules, the embryo sac iseither nonfunctional, ceasing development at the nucleate stage, or lackingaltogether.

OUTBREEDING

The saffron crocus pistil consists of: (i) a trilocular ovary including on average 29anatropous ovules, (ii) a hollow, 8 to 9 cm long style, and (iii) three 3 to 4 cm longstylar branches forming the stigmas. The stigma rim is provided with papillae;these are unicellular and of the dry type (Grilli Caiola and Chichiriccò 1990),although they lack the proteinaceous pellicle which is typical of dry-type stigmas.

Following pollination, saffron pollen grains stick to the papillae and undergorapid hydration and germination. Within 50–70 min of pollination, the pollentubes perforate the papilla cuticle by enzymatic degradation, and grow under itand outside the cell wall, along which a thin layer of exudate is deposited. Belowthe papillae, the stigmatic pathway for growing pollen tubes lies between the cuticlelayer and the inner epidermis of the stigma branches. Along this tract, a copiousPAS-positive secretion is released by underlying cells, but a number of pollen tubesfail to grow, the others proceeding to the stylar canal. This is three-channelled,and bordered with elongated secretive cells which discharge polysaccharide-typenutrients into the lumen for the pollen tubes. Along the stylar route, other pollentubes cease growing, with or without apical anomalies (Chichiriccò and GrilliCaiola 1984, 1986), so few pollen tubes actually reach the ovary. Here, the way tofertilization is along the bottom of the axile grooves, and via placental columns tothe ovule micropyle. This tract, based on Crocus species, is the main selective sitefor pollen-tube growth (Chichiriccò 1996, Chichiriccò et al. 1995), and is linedwith enlarged pyriform cells (Figure 12.3) which, together with the ovule micropyle,secrete flocculent material of a probable glycoprotein nature. Pollen tubes whichextend as far as the ovary usually behave like self-pollen tubes of fertile Crocusspecies, ceasing growth in the axile grooves (Figure 12.3). In any event, the fertilizedovules do not succeed in setting seed.

INTERSPECIFIC CROSSES

The pistil of the saffron crocus also supports pollen germination and pollen-tubegrowth after interspecific pollination (Chichiriccò 1996); crossing partners extendpollen tubes through the stigmas-style to the ovary, just as they do after intraspecificpollination. However, if the partners are not of the Crocus sativus aggregate (Mathew

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (148)

G.CHICHIRICCÒ132

1977), their pollen tubes are rejected along the ovarian grooves, failing to extendto the ovules. Partners of the C. sativus aggregate (C. thomasii Ten., C. hadriaticusHerb., C. oreocreticus B.L.Burtt) extend pollen tubes to the ovules and evenaccomplish fertili-zation (Figure 12.4) (Chichiriccò 1996). The highest percentageof saffron ovules containing zygote and endosperm nuclei was recovered aftercrossing with C. thomasii (16.8%), followed by crosses with C. onocreticus (11.8%)and C. hadriaticus (8.5%). A small number of the fertilized saffron ovules are ableto develop to mature seed (Chichiriccò 1989c), according to the embryologicalpattern of C. sativus agg. Abortion frequently occurs before or during the globularstage of embryo development; embryo abortion is frequently preceded byintegument degeneration. From 125 saffron flowers crossed with C. thomasii, 47seeds developed to completion. About half of these germinated to plants. Theresultant hybrid fruits, seeds and embryos were larger than those of C. sativusaggregate.

Interspecific crosses with saffron crocus as the pollen donors were as unsuccessfulas intraspecific crosses of saffron crocus (Chichiriccò and Grilli Caiola 1984, 1986).

CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE PERSPECTIVES

In Crocus sativus, the transition from sporophytic to gametophytic generations ischaracterized by cytological irregularities, most of which are associated with thetriploid genome. Therefore, spores are generated which are both genetically and

Figure 12.3 Ovarian groove of a saffron crocus under scanning electron microscope showing, under thecuticle layer (C): the pyriform cells of transmitting tissue and, at the bottom, two pollen tubes whichhave ceased growth; note the flocculent material (arrow) on the pollen-tube wall (bar=100 µm).

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (149)

GENETIC IMPROVEMENT OF CROCUS SATIVUS 133

cytologically unbalanced, and are subject to deviant development. Pollen grains,besides their size and shape, are dissimilar with respect to the development of theintine wall and cytoplasm; on the female side, the embryo sac is deficient in about40% of the ovules. Together these variations do not account for the total sterilityof the saffron crocus. The self-incompatibility mechanisms which prevent inbreedingin fertile Crocus species (Chichiriccò 1993, 1996) seem to be also operating in theovary of the saffron crocus. From a genetic point of view, any pollination eventwithin a population that reproduces only vegetatively is comparable to inbreeding.The reproductive system of the saffron crocus is nevertheless able to support, tosome extent, related interspecific crosses. This allows us to obtain seed-producinghybrid saffron plants.

Considering these observations, we conclude that the saffron crocus retainssome reproductive-system traits of its presumed ancestors C. sativus aggregate,such as the selective role of the ovary, and the potential cross-compatibility,the latter attenuated by the triploid genome producing genetic unbalance. Thesetraits provide promising tools for the genetic improvement of saffron, mostlywhen associated with methodologies that enhance successful seed set.Integration of the saffron genome with genetic traits from closely related wildspecies could result in stabilization of traits relevant to breeding; namely,resistance to pathogenic fungi and viruses (Russo et al. 1979), induction ofhysteranthy (Plessner et al. 1989) and improvement of the productivity andquality of saffron drugs (Negbi et al. 1989). An appropriate partner for the

Figure 12.4 Longitudinal section of a saffron crocus ovule 25 days after crossing with Crocus hadriaticus.Note nuclear endosperm (E) and the three-celled developing embryo (arrow). OI=outer integument,II=inner integument (×140).

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (150)

G.CHICHIRICCÒ134

hybridization programme seems to be C. thomasii, a highly fertile and vitalspecies (Paradies 1957, Chichiriccò 1993) growing in southern Italy and westernYugoslavia. The major drawback of such a hybridization programme is thehigh number of functional hybrid seeds which need to be tested for the purposeof selection, and the difficulties inherent to natural seed development. Basedon previous in vitro studies on Crocus (Chichiriccò 1990, Chichiriccò andGrilli Caiola 1987), the in vitro culture of cross-fertilized saffron ovaries couldbe a way for successful seed set.

REFERENCES

Brighton, C.A. (1977) Cytology of Crocus sativus and its allies (Iridaceae). Plant Systematicsand Evolution, 128, 137–157.

Carroll, C.P. (1966) Autopolyploidy and the assortment of chromosomes. Chromosoma(Berl.), 18, 19–43.

Chichiriccò, G. (1984) Karyotype and meiotic behaviour of the triploid Crocus sativus L.Caryologia, 37, 233–239.

Chichiriccò, G. (1987) Megasporogenesis and development of embryo sac in Crocus sativusL. Caryologia, 40, 59–69.

Chichiriccò, G. (1989a) Microsporogenesis and pollen development in Crocus sativus L.Caryologia, 42, 237–249.

Chichiriccò, G. (1989b) Embryology of Crocus thomasii (Iridaceae). Plant Systematics andEvolution, 168, 39–47.

Chichiriccò, G. (1989c) Fertilization of Crocus sativus ovules and development of seedsafter stigmatic pollination with Crocus thomasii (Iridaceae). Giornale Botanico Italiano,123, 31–37.

Chichiriccò, G. (1990) Fruit and seed development of cultured fertilized ovaries of Crocus.Ann. Bot. (Roma), 48, 87–91.

Chichiriccò, G. (1993) Pregamic and postgamic self-incompatibility systems in Crocus(Iridaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution, 185, 219–227.

Chichiriccò, G. (1996) Intra- and interspecific reproductive barriers in Crocus (Iridaceae).Plant Systematics and Evolution, 201, 83–92.

Chichiriccò, G., Aimola, P. and Ragnelli, A.M. (1995) Cytochemical and ultrastructuralstudy of the ovarian transmitting tract of Crocus (Iridaceae). Giornale Botanico Italiano,129(2), 21.

Chichiriccò, G. and Grilli Caiola, M. (1982) Germination and viability of the pollen ofCrocus sativus L. Giornale Botanico Italiano, 116, 167–173.

Chichiriccò, G. and Grilli Caiola, M. (1984) Crocus sativus pollen tube growth in intra-and interspecific pollination. Caryologia, 37, 115–125.

Chichiriccò, G. and Grilli Caiola, M. (1986) Crocus sativus pollen germination and pollentube growth in vitro and after intraspesific and interspecific pollination. CanadianJournal of Botany, 64, 2774–2777.

Chichiriccò, G. and Grilli Caiola, M. (1987) In vitro development of parthenocarpic fruitsof Crocus sativus L. Plant Cell Tissue Organ Culture, 11, 75–78.

De Nettancourt, D. (1977) Incompatibility in Angioperms. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg,New York.

Ghaffari, S.M. (1986) Cytogenetic studies of cultivated Crocus sativus (Iridaceae). PlantSystematics and Evolution, 153, 199–204.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (151)

GENETIC IMPROVEMENT OF CROCUS SATIVUS 135

Grilli Caiola, M., Castagnola, M. and Chichiriccò, G. (1985) Ultrastructural study of saffronpollen. Giornale Botanico Italiano, 119, 61–66.

Grilli Caiola, M. and Chichiriccò, G. (1990) Structural organization of the pistil in saffron(Crocus sativus L.). Israel Journal of Botany, 40, 199–207

Karasawa, K. (1933) On the triploidy of Crocus sativus L., and its high sterility. JapaneseJournal of Genetics, 9, 6–8.

Mathew, B. (1977) Crocus sativus and its allies (Iridaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution,128, 89–103.

Negbi, M., Dagan, B., Dror, A. and Basker, D. (1989) Growth, flowering, vegetativereproduction and dormancy in the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus L.). Israel Journal ofBotany, 38, 95–113.

Pacini, E. (1990) Tapetum and microspore function. In Blackmore, S. and Knox, R.B. (Eds.)Microspores, Evolution and Ontogeny. Academic Press, London, pp. 213–237.

Paradies, M. (1957) Osservazioni sulla costituzione e ciclo di sviluppo di Crocus thomasiiTen. Nuovo Giornale Botanico Italiano, 64(3), 347–367.

Plessner, O., Negbi, M., Ziv, M. and Basker, D. (1989) Effects of temperature on the floweringof the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus L.): induction of hysteranthy. Israel Journal ofBotany, 38, 1–7.

Russo, M., Martelli, G.P., Cresti, M. and Ciampolini, F. (1979) Bean yellow mosaic virus insaffron. Phytopathologica Mediterranea, 18, 189–101.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (152)

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (153)

137

13. IN VITRO PROPAGATION AND SECONDARYMETABOLITE PRODUCTION IN CROCUS SATIVUS L.

ORA PLESSNER and MEIRA ZIV1

Department of Agricultural Botany, Faculty of Agriculture, Food andEnvironmental Quality

Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, P.O. Box 12, Rehovot, 76100, Israel

ABSTRACT The sterile Crocus sativus has a low vegetative propagation rate.Tissue culture techniques were used for rapid propagation of newly introducedvarieties and production of pathogen-free corms through organogenesis and somaticembryogenesis. Explants isolated from cauline, foliar and floral tissues were grownon different culture media for the culture initiation stage, the proliferation stageand the hardening, rooting and corming stage. Plant growth regulators, sucrose,active charcoal, coconut milk and ascorbic acid, were employed in the culturemedia. Callus induced from shoot and corm tissues formed globular embryonictissues which differentiated into embryoid and matured into plants. Apical andlateral buds regenerated shoots, which developed into microcorms on a 6% sucroseGBR2 free medium. In the presence of IAA and ZN, embryoids were formed, yetwithout further development. Corm tissue formed callus and buds which developedinto plantlets, or directly into minicorms. Terminal buds exposed to ethylene andto microsurgery resulted in development of axillary buds into microcorms. Floralorgans formed, on GBR media, yellow-orange style- and stigma-like structures, inwhich the levels of the pigments crocin and picrocrocin were 6 and 11 times lowerthan these in naturally grown stigmas, except in cultures initiated from halvedovaries.

INTRODUCTION

The saffron crocus (Crocus sativus L.; Iridaceae), an herbaceous triploid geophyte,is used mainly as a source of secondary metabolites having aromatic and medicinalvalue. The plant develops annually from buds on the mother corm—a thickenedstem, which acts as a resting, perennating storage organ. New corms form via theswelling of the basal internodes of main and axillary shoots. The corms are enclosedby leaves which dry at the end of the growing season, turning into papery scales ortunics (Warburg 1957, Mathew this volume).

1 Corresponding author.2 Abbreviations: ABA=abscisic ac., IAA=indole-acetic ac., IBA=indole-3-butyric ac., BAP= 6-benzylaminopurine, 2.4-D=2,4-dichlorophenoxy-acetic ac., GBR=growth bioregular, GA3= gibberellicac. (gibberellin A3), KN=kinetin (6-furfurylaminopurine), ZN=zeatin (6{4-hydroxy-3-methybut-2-enylamino}purine.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (154)

O.PLESSNER AND M.ZIV138

Two leaf types develop from the actively growing buds, cataphylls and the trueleaves; the former protect the newly emerging leaves, amounting to a total of 12–14 per bud. Adventitious roots, absorbing and contractile, develop at the base ofthe newly formed corms. The contractile roots assist in anchoring and pulling thedaughter corm deeper into the soil.

Crocus sativus, being a sterile triploid plant, is propagated vegetatively byannual replacement corms. Several bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens infestthe saffron crocus. These remain active after the corms are harvested and arethus perpetuated. In spite of sanitary measures, the pathogens cause corm andleaf rot, necrosis and often reduce or even inhibit growth and flowering. Plantsinfested with fungi and bacteria can be treated by bactericidal and fungicidalcompounds, while virusinfested plants cannot be treated successfully (Magieand Poe 1982).

As with many bulb and corm plants, meristem-tip culture followed by tissueculture regeneration is almost the only means by which production of clean andpathogen-free propagation material in large numbers can be achieved (Hussey1975, Debergh and Read 1991). Tissue culture techniques have been applied tothe propagation of many geophytes as well as to the saffron crocus. The procedureis based on totipotency—the ability of isolated plant cells, tissue or organs culturedaseptically on a defined medium to regenerate new organs or somatic embryos(Kim and DeHertogh 1996).

Various types of explants have been used for saffron crocus establishment invitro; explants were isolated from the corm tissue, axillary and terminal buds,leaves, nodal tissue and various floral organs (see Table 13.1 for details). Theresponse of the isolated organ or tissue depends on the plant age at the time ofisolation, the type of organ isolated and the medium components, in particularthe level and combination of plant-growth bioregulators (PBR).

Tissue culture can be a very useful method for effective genetic improvementsand production of new crocus varieties, because the plant is sterile and conventionalbreeding methods cannot be used. Protoplast culture, anther culture and the useof various genetic transformations can aid in saffron improvements once in vitromethods are established.

MEDIUM COMPOSITION FOR SAFFRON CULTURE IN VITRO

Growth and regeneration of C sativus explants in vitro have been obtained inboth agar and liquid media. The most common ones used are MS, LS, N6, W andB5 (Table 13.1). In some of the reported research, any one or all of the mineralconstituents are reduced to half-strength level for a better growth response.

The concentration of PBR varies according to the organ used and the culturestage. The medium used for culture initiation—stage I, usually differs from thatused for proliferation—stage II, and in many of the cases reported, the medium ischanged again for hardening, rooting or corming—stage III.

Growth regulators used for saffron in vitro cultures were the auxins NAA,IAA, IBA and 2, 4-D, the cytokinins KN, BAP, and ZN, as well as GA3, ABA, and

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (155)

13

9Table 13.1 Summary of the in vitro studies on Crocus sativus L.

aMS=Murashige & Skoog (1962); B5=Gambourg (1968); LS=Linsmaier & Skoog (1965); N6=Nitsch & Nitsch (1969); W=White (1963); N=Nitrogen bStagesof Development: I—Initiation; II—Regeneration and/or proliferation; III—Hardening, rooting, and corm formation

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (156)

14

0Table 13.1 (continued)

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (157)

14

1Table 13.1 (continued)

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (158)

14

2

Table 13.1 (continued)

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (159)

PROPAGATION AND PRODUCTION IN CROCUS SATIVUS 143

ethylene at various concentrations. Sucrose levels ranged from 2 to 12% and otherconstituents included activated charcoal, coconut milk and ascorbic acid.

BUD AND MERISTEM CULTURE OF SAFFRON CROCUS

Buds and the corm meristem tissue were used as a source of explants for in vitropropagation. These were found to respond along two developmental pathways:either organogenesis or somatic embryogenesis. Shoot meristems 8–10 mm longwith two leaf primordia, isolated from small corms, developed a callus on LS mediumwith BAP and NAA. The callus formed globular embryogenic tissue whichdifferentiated into embryoid when subcultured onto half-strength MS medium devoidof growth regulators. The embryoids matured into plants only in the presence ofBAP, NAA and 2% activated charcoal (Ahuja et al. 1994). In another report, theexplants from the corm meristem tissue developed callus in a medium with 2, 4-Dand redifferentiated into globular embryos in the presence of IAA and KN withascorbic acid added to the medium. Further embryo development occurred, however,on half-strength MS minerals in a liquid medium with ABA. The callus alsoregenerated adventitious buds which developed into plants only in a liquid medium(George et al. 1992). Although both terminal and lateral buds were found to be asuitable source of explants for shoot regeneration, the regeneration potential wasrather low. Lateral buds from adult corms developed only four to six new shoots onhalf the level of MS nitrogen components, with the addition of BAP. The shootsdeveloped into minicorms in the absence of growth regulators and with the sucroseelevated to 6% under short days at 15°C (Aguero and Tizio 1994). Terminal andlateral dormant buds isolated with a section of the corm developed into shoots andminicorms in the presence of IAA and ZN when cultured at 10°C under long days.The regeneration potential was one bud to one minicorm and although two to threecormlets developed one on top of the other over a period of two months, this is arather low regeneration potential for in vitro propagation. The same explants alsoresponded to PBR with callus formation which redifferentiated to embryo-likestructures without further development. Note that the embryos described do notresemble monocotyledon embryos, and the bipolar structure claimed by the authorsis more typical of dicotyledonous ones and actually has the appearance of a shootmeristem with a root apex (Milyaeva et al. 1988, 1995).

CORM AND LEAF EXPLANTS

The use of the corm storage tissue by itself as an explant source has been reportedby several authors. However, most of these failed to give a detailed description ofthe tissue or zone from which these explants were isolated. The nodal tissue mayhave been included and hence was the source of actively dividing cells withregenerative potential.

Ding et al. (1981) succeeded in obtaining callus formation from corm tissue, aswell as bud and plantlet regeneration in the presence of NAA and IAA. Whencorm fragments were used, minicorms developed on the explants in a mediumwith 2, 4-D (Homes et al. 1987). Callus formation on corm explants was obtained

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (160)

O.PLESSNER AND M.ZIV144

with the addition of coconut milk to 2, 4-D and BAP, and followed by bud andplantlet development (Ilahi et al. 1987). A similar response from cultured cormswas obtained in the presence of 2, 4-D and ZN. The callus redifferentiated intoshoots after a period of three months in culture, when ZN was substituted withBAP (Isa and Osagawara 1988).

Small corms were used by Plessner et al. (1991) for shoot development fromterminal and lateral buds present on the corms. When the cultured corms weregiven a pretreatment of exposure to ethylene together with terminal-budmicrosurgery, minicorms developed in a medium supplemented with 2, 4-D, KNand ZN (see Table 13.2 for details, Figure 13.1). We know of only one reportdescribing the use of leaf explants for callus formation, in the presence of NAAand BAP. The calli produced a large number of buds after a period of eight monthsand when the medium MS minerals were reduced to half-strength and IAA wasadded, shoot formation was induced (Huang 1987).

FLORAL ORGANS AS A SOURCE FOR EXPLANTS

The morphogenic response of various floral organs in vitro, such as the corolla,ovaries, styles, anthers and stigmas, depends on the age of the flower and stage ofdevelopment at the time of isolation. In many cases, the callus which forms in thepresence of various combinations of growth bioregulators has been observed toredifferentiate into stigma- or style-like structures which contain yellow-orangepigments.

Halved ovaries in the presence of NAA and ZN in the medium (Fakhari andEvans 1990) or whole ovaries or stigmas in a medium containing NAA and BAP(Sarma et al 1990, 1991) redifferentiated into stigmatic and tubular structures. Inone report, as many as 75 stigma-like structures containing yellow-orange pigments

Table 13.2 The effect of ethylene, ethaphon and microsurgery of the apical buds from small corms invitroa on axillary bud development after 12 weeks in culture (n-20)

a The culture medium was supplemented with 2, 4-D 1 mg-1

b Wounding of apical buds was carried out with scalpel (n-15)c Ethylene or Ethaphon was administrated as a pre-treatment.d Corms or microcorms developed at the base of apical bud.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (161)

PROPAGATION AND PRODUCTION IN CROCUS SATIVUS 145

developed in a medium with NAA or IBA (Sano and Himeno 1987). Similarly,whole flowers developed stigma-like structures (Han and Zhang 1993).

Elevated sucrose levels (5–10%) together with BAP, NAA and alanine increasedthe formation of pigmented stigma-like structures (Otsuka et al. 1992). Stigma-like structures on LS medium with NAA and BAP reached up to 15 mm in lengthafter 3–4 months in culture (Koyama et al. 1988).

In a SEM study, Himeno et al. (1988) showed that the stigma-like structuresdeveloped from the cut edge of the ventral epidermal layer of the carpel orhypathium, when cultured in LS medium with NAA and KN at a 10:1 ratio. Theyfound the stigmatic surface of these organs to be mature and biologically functionalas a pollen receptor.

SECONDARY METABOLITES IN C.SATIVUS IN VITRO

Saffron compounds produced in vitro have been reported to develop mainly infloral explants or organs and callus which developed from the floral explants in

Figure 13.1 Bud development on saffron crocus corms cultured in vitro after pretreatment withethylene or ethaphone. (1) Water control; (2) Ethaphon—1000 ppm; (3) Ethylene—1000 ppm (seeTable 13.2).

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (162)

O.PLESSNER AND M.ZIV146

culture. The metabolites are produced in either whole flower buds, in variousorgans isolated from the flower, or in redifferentiated stigma- or style-like structures.

In many reports these redifferentiated organs were intensely pigmented, varyingfrom yellow to orange to red. When these organs were extracted, the pigmentswere found to consist of crocin, picrocrocin and crocetin, and in some cases safranalwas also detected. The level and quality of the saffron compounds produceddepended on the type of tissue or the organs which differentiated in vitro. Instigma-like structures which developed in vitro from various flower parts and inabnormal tubular structures developed on ovary explants, the levels of crocin andpicrocrocin were 6 and 11 times lower than in naturally grown stigmas. Sensoryanalysis showed that the saffron compounds from tissue culture were differentfrom those obtained from flowers on the plant (Sarma et al. 1990, 1991).

When stigmas and ovaries were cultured on a defined medium, the stigma-likestructures which developed produced three yellow pigments, but their contentwas lower than that found in vivo (Sano and Himeno 1987). Stigmas whichdeveloped from halved ovaries and elongated to 30 mm developed intense orangepigments of composition similar to that of saffron compounds produced naturally(Fakhrai and Evans 1990).

Globular callus and red filamentous structures obtained from cultured floralbuds produced levels of crocin and crocetin which were higher than in stigmas invivo, while the safranal content was comparable to that produced by stigmas invivo (Visvanath et al. 1990).

It appears that although the capacity of in vitro differentiated stigma-stylestructures to produce saffron compounds has been established, these methods willhave to be further improved to make the system commercially efficient.

CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE PROSPECTS

The final decision to use tissue culture for the commercial propagation of thesaffron crocus and for secondary metabolite production will depend onimprovements in the techniques and the ability to up-scale the tissue culture system.Unless the number of propagules and the level of saffron compounds producedcan become sufficiently high to justify in vitro production, tissue culture technologywill not be regarded as a substitute for the conventional methods of propagationand spice, pigment and other metabolite production.

Further research will be needed to improve the establishment of the explants,possibly making use of corm tissue and buds which are, unlike the flowers, notseasonal dependent and can be obtained from corms in storage all year round.The use of flower organs which redifferentiate to stigma-like structures and havea high potential for metabolite production in tissue culture will have to be developedand established as a continuous culture system possibly in liquid cultures, withoutthe need to constantly renew the original explants from the flowers.

One area which was hardly exploited is the use of tissue culture biotechnologyfor genetic improvements through DNA manipulation and genetic transformation,particularly to overcome the saffron crocus’s sterility.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (163)

PROPAGATION AND PRODUCTION IN CROCUS SATIVUS 147

Once a new genotype has been established, the only efficient way to introducethe new variety for commercial production will be by rapid propagation in vitro.Further production of propagation material will continuously depend on tissueculture methods for high quality corms for agricultural cultivation.

REFERENCES

Aguero, C. and Tizio, R. (1994) In vitro mass bulbification as a preliminary contribution tosaffron (Crocus sativus L.). Biocell,, 18, 55–63.

Ahuja, A., Koul, S. and Ram, G. (1994) Somatic embryogenesis and regeneration of plantletsin saffron, Crocus sativus L. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, 32, 135–140.

Debergh, P.C. and Read, P.E. (1991) Micropropagation. In Debergh, P.C. Zimmerman,R.H. (eds.) Micropropagation: technology and application, Kluwer Acad. Pub.Dordrecht pp. 1–13.

Dhar, A.K. and Sapru, R. (1993) Studies on saffron in Kashmir. III. In vitro production ofcorm and shoot-like structures. Indian journal of Genetics and Plant Breeding, 53,193–196.

Ding, B.Z., Bai, S.H., Wu, Y. and Fan, X.P. (1979) Preliminary report on tissue culture ofcorm production of Crocus sativus L., Acta Botanica Sinica, 21, No. 4.

Ding, B.Z. et al. (1981) Induction of callus and regeneration of plantlets from the corm ofCrocus sativus L. Acta Botanica Sinica, 23, 419–420.

Fakhari, F. and Evans, P.K. (1990) Morphogenic potential of cultured floral explants ofCrocus sativus L. for in vitro production of saffron. Journal of Experimental Botany,41, 47–52.

Gambourg, O.L., Miller, R.A. and Ojima, G. (1968) Nutrient requirements of suspensionculture of soybean root cells. Experimental Cell Research, 50, 148–151.

George, P.S., Visvanath S., Ravishankar, G.A. and Venkataraman, L.V. (1992) Tissue cultureof saffron (Crocus sativus L.) Somatic embryogenesis and shoot regeneration. FoodBiotechnology (New York) 6, 217–223.

Gui, Y.L., Xu, T.Y., Gu, S.R., Liu, S.Q., Sun, G.D. and Zhang, Q. (1988) Corm formationof saffron crocus In vitro. Acta Botanica Sinica, 30, 338–340.

Han L.L. and Zhang, X.Y. (1993) Morphogenesis of style stigma like structures from floralexplants of Crocus sativus L. and identification of the pigments. Acta Botanica Sinica,35, 157–160.

Hussey, G. (1975) Totipotency in tissue explants and callus of some members of the Liliaceae,Iridaceae and Amaryllidaceae. Journal of Experimetal Botany, 26, 253–262.

Hussey, G. (1986) Problems and prospects in the In vitro propagation of herbaceous plants.In Whithers, L.A. and Alderson, P.G. (eds) Plant Tissue Culture and its AgriculturalApplication. Butterworths, London, pp. 69–84.

Himeno, H., Matsushima, H. and Sano, K. (1988) Scanning electron microscopic study onthe in vitro organogenesis of saffron stigma and style-like structures. Plant Science, 58,93–101.

Himeno, H. and Sano, K. (1987) Synthesis of crocin, picrocrocin, and safranal by saffronstigma-like structure proliferated in vitro. Agricultural and Biological Chemistry, 51,23950–23400.

Homes, J., Legros, M. and Jaziri, M. (1987) In vitro multiplication of Crocus sativus L.Acta Horticulturae, 212, 675–676.

Huang, S.Y. (1987) A study on tissue culture of Crocus sativus, Plant physiologyCommunication, 6, 17–19.

Ilahi, I., Jabbeen, M. and Firdous, N. (1987) Morphogenesis with saffron tissue culture.Journal of Plant Physiology, 128, 27–232.

Isa, T. and Ogasawara, T. (1988) Efficient regeneration from the callus of saffron (Crocussativus). Japanese Journal of Breeding, 38, 371–374.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and...· 2017. 8. 26.· Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (164)

O.PLESSNER AND M.ZIV148

Kim, K.W. and De Hertogh, A.A. (1996). Tissue culture of ornamental flowering geophytes.Horticultural Review, 18, 87–169.

Koyama, A., Ohmori, Y, Fujioka, N., Miyagawa, H., Yamasaki K. and Kohda H. (1988)Formation of stigma-like structures and pigment in cultured tissues of Crocus sativus.Planta Medica, 54, 375–376.

Linsmaier, E. and Skoog, F. (1965) Organic growth factors requirements of tobacco tissuecultures. Physiologia Plantarum, 18, 100–127.

Lu, W.L., Tong, X.R., Zhang, Q. and Gao, W.W. (1992) Study on in vitro regeneration ofstylestigma like structure in Crocus sativus L. Acta Botanica Sinica, 34, 251–252.

Magie, R.O. and Poe, S.L. (1982) Disease and pest associates of bulbs and plants in Koenig,N. and Crowley, W. (eds) The world of Gladiolus (N.). North American GladiolusCouncil, Edgerton Press, MD, pp. 155–156.

Milyaeva, E.L., Komarova, E.V., Azizbekova, N.Sh., Akhundova, D.D. and Butenko, R.G.(eds). (1988) Features of morphogenesis in Crocus sativus in in vitro culture. Biol.kultiviruemykh kletok i biotekhnologiya, 1, 146.

Milyaeva, E.L., Azizbekova, N.Sh., Komarova, E.N. and Akhundova, D.D. (1995) In vitroformation of regenerant corms of saffron crocus (Crocus sativus L.) Russian Journal ofPlant Physiology, 42, 112–119.

Murashige, T. and Skoog, F. (1962) A revised medium of rapid growth and bioassay withTobacco tissue cultures. Physiologia Plantarum., 15, 473–497.

Namera, A., Koyoma, N., Fujioka, K., Yamasaki, H. and Konda, H. (1987) Formation ofstigma like structures and pigments in cultured tissues of Crocus sativus. JapaneseJournal of Pharmcognosy, 41, 260–262.

Nitsch, J.P. and Nitsch, C. (1969) Auxin-dependent growth of excised Hellianthus tissues.American Journal of Botany, 43, 839–851.

Otsuka, M., Saimoto, H.S., Murata, Y. and Kawashima, M. (1992). Methods for producingsaffron stigma-like tissue. United States Patent. US 5085995,8 pp, A28.08.89 US 399037,P 04.02.92.

Plessner, O., Ziv, M. and Negbi, M. (1990) In vitro corm production in the saffron crocus(Crocus sativus. L.) Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture, 20, 89–94.

Sano, K. and Himeno, H. (1987) In vitro proliferation of saffron (Crocus sativus L.). PlantCell Tissue and Organ Culture, 11, 159–166.

Sarma, K.S., Maesato, K., Hara, H.T. and Sonoda, Y (1990) In vitro production of stigma-like structures from stigma explants of Crocus sativus L. Journal of Experimental Botany,41, 745–748.

Sarma, K.S., Sharada, K., Maesato, K., Hara, T. and Sonoda, Y. (1991) Chemical andsensory analysis of saffron produced through tissue cultures of Crocus sativus. PlantCell Tissue and Organ Culture, 26, 11–16.

Sarma, K.S., Ravishankar, G.A., Venkataraman, L.V. and Sreenath, H.L. (1992) Chromosomestability of callus cultures of Crocus sativus. Journal of Spice and Aromatic Crops, 1,157–159.

Visvanath, S., Ravishankar, G.A. and Venkataraman, L.V. (1990) Induction of crocin,crocetin, picrocrocin, and safranal synthesis in callus cultures of saffron: Crocus sativusL. Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry, 12, 336–340.

White, P.R. (1963) The Cultivation of Animal and Plant Cells, Ronald Press, New York.VII, 228.

Warburg, E.E. (1957) Crocuses. Endeavor, 16, 209–216.

Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,part of the Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.


Looking for Saffron's (Crocus sativus L.) Parents

Zastosowanie szafranu (Crocus sativus) w psychiatrii

Phenological growth stages of saffron plant (Crocus sativus L.) …· 2019. 7. 5.· Saffron-growing in Spain has been world-wide refer-enced both in yield and quality; in fact,

Plant Antioxidative Enzymes...Plant Antioxidative Enzymes – Case Study: In Vitro Organogenesis of Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) 371 Saffron is one of the most valuable crop species

Saffron (zafran) Crocus Sativus

NEURAL REGENERATION RESEARCH· 2020. 1. 28.· NEURAL REGENERATION RESEARCH 1408 Beneficial effects of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) in ocular pathologies, particularly neurodegenerative

Effects of Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) Stigma Extract and its …· 2016. 5. 21.· Crocus Sativus L, known as saffron, is an aboriginal plant growing in various parts of the world,

Crocus Sativus L. (Saffron) Extract and its Active Constituents …downloads.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2009/146701.pdf· safranal, expressed as direct reading of the absorbance at

Crocus Sativus Linn: An Informative Revie· Saffron, Crocus Sativus L. is a perennial bulbous herb. The plant has been priced since antiquity for its yellow-orange coloured tripartite

Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) : Quality Assessment in Moroccosaffron/Workshops/Saffron Workshop 2019/Saffron...safranal, responsible for its color, taste, and aroma power. It represents

Crocus Sativus - FermedeSainteMarthe· 2018. 7. 12.· Crocus Sativus L’or rouge om latin Crocus Sativus amille Iridaceae rusticité -10C -15C Les multiples usages du safran -

Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) Crop Insurance to Mitigate ill .... Nehvi and Salwee Yasmin.pdf· 02/08/2019 · Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) Crop Insurance to Mitigate ill Effects of

Crocus sativus L.): A Review of its Ethnopharmacological value

Petals of Crocus sativus L. as a Potential source of the ...· The domesticated saffron crocus, Crocus sativus, autumn-flowering perennial plant from a bulb. Since ancient times,

Candidate Enzymes for Saffron Crocin Biosynthesis Are Localized …· 0000-0002-2486-0510 (G.G.) Saffron is the dried stigmas of Crocus sativus and is the most expensive spice in

Saffron (Crocus sativus) aqueous extract reverses the ...· Crocus sativus L., Iridaceae, stigma is commonly known as saf-fron. This perennial stemless herb of the Iridaceae family

Using ß-cyclodextrin and Arabic Gum as Wall Materials for ...ijpr.sbmu.ac.ir/article_1945_be9b043e3536af839cff59aa5abebf2a.pdf· Saffron, the dried stigmas of Crocus Sativus Linn

The inhibitory effect of Saffron extract (Crocus sativus ...chesci.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/V4i13_29_CS02204602.pdf· Table 1 Scientific classification of Crocus sativus L

Zastosowanie szafranu (Crocus sativus) w psychiatrii...PSYCHIATRA/PISMO dla praktyków/maj 2013 3 Tomasz Szafrański Zastosowanie szafranu (Crocus sativus) w psychiatrii Przegląd

Looking for Saffron’s (Crocus sativus L.) Parents· Persian cultivated Persian saffron C. sativus hausknechtii in Derbena, Khorasan by the Xth century B.C. Toponimy suggests the

InstallatIon d’une safranIère et culture du crocus satIvus

Crocus Sativus Linn: An Informative Review

Genetic Diversity in Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) Cultivars ...jast.modares.ac.ir/article-23-19716-en.pdf· Saffron (Crocus sativus L.), one of the most expensive spices in the world,

Sustainable Saffron (Crocus sativus Kashmirianus ...€¦· Sustainable Saffron (Crocus sativus Kashmirianus) Production: Technological and Policy Interventions for Kashmir Amjad

Girl Gathering Saffron Crocus Flowers. Before 1630 BCE

Looking for Saffron’s (Crocus sativus L.) Parents...Looking for Saffron’s (Crocus sativus L.) Parents Maria Grilli Caiola* • Antonella Canini Department of Biology, University

RESEARCH COMMUNICATION Indian Food …...of palatal cancers in a specific area of Andhra Pradesh (Krishnaswamy, 1996). Chemopreventive potential of saffron ( Crocus sativus ), used

MOLECULAR AND MORPHOLOGICAL VARIATION IN ......Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) is a cultivated perennial plant from Iridaceae family which has evolved from Crocus sativus L. since ancient

μαγεία του Crocus sativus L. - · PDF fileΗ μαγεία του Crocus sativus L. ΤογένοςCrocus περιλαμβάνειπερισσότερααπό75 είδη και

Effects of Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) Stigma Extract and its Active ...applications.emro.who.int/imemrf/Iran_J_Pharm_Res/Iran_J_Pharm_Res...· main volatile constitution of saffron,

terial rot of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) grown

eeb.14.25 Disinfection of explants for saffron (Crocus ...eeb.lu.lv/EEB/201612/EEB_XIV_Teixeira_da_Silva_A.pdf· Disinfection of explants for saffron (Crocus sativus) tissue culture

The effects of Crocus sativus (saffron) and its constituents on …ajp.mums.ac.ir/article_4503_4063c5b57e008139e828510da8bc...· 2020-06-20· Crocus sativus (saffron) and nervous

Saffron: Crocus sativus L. and... · 2017. 8. 26. · Saffron: crocus sativus L.—(Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles; v. 8) 1. Saffron crocus 2. Saffron crocus—Industrial - [PDF Document] (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Geoffrey Lueilwitz

Last Updated:

Views: 6475

Rating: 5 / 5 (80 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Geoffrey Lueilwitz

Birthday: 1997-03-23

Address: 74183 Thomas Course, Port Micheal, OK 55446-1529

Phone: +13408645881558

Job: Global Representative

Hobby: Sailing, Vehicle restoration, Rowing, Ghost hunting, Scrapbooking, Rugby, Board sports

Introduction: My name is Geoffrey Lueilwitz, I am a zealous, encouraging, sparkling, enchanting, graceful, faithful, nice person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.