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How to Grow Saffron

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

Story at-a-glance -

  • Regarded as the world’s most expensive spice by weight, saffron is actually the stigmas of the purple crocus flower, which blooms once a year
  • Harvesting saffron is a labor-intensive job because the fragile red-orange stigmas require handpicking; it takes about 170,000 flowers to produce a single pound of saffron
  • About 90 percent of the world’s supply of saffron is grown in arid fields across Iran and most of it is hand-picked by women earning $5 per day
  • Due to its high cost and the fact saffron is often adulterated with look-alike ingredients, you may want to try growing this prized herb at home
  • Given well-draining soil and plenty of sun, you can easily grow saffron crocus in your garden in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9

Saffron, which is regarded as the world's most expensive spice by weight, is actually the stigmas of the purple crocus flower (Crocus sativus), which blooms once a year. Due to the fragile stigmas needing to be picked by hand, harvesting saffron is a labor-intensive job. As mentioned in the featured video, given the fact each saffron crocus plant contains just three stigmas it takes about 170,000 flowers to produce a single pound of this costly spice.


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