Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Flavors of Morocco: Saffron

Posted in Exhibitions on January 28 2020, by Matt Newman

Crocus sativus

<em>Crocus sativus</em>
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Saffron has been prized by civilizations for millennia. Ancient Egyptians used saffron to make perfume, and 4,000-year-old frescoes in the Greek islands of Santorini and Crete depict people plucking flowers from cultivated saffron fields. Each Crocus sativus flower produces a three-pronged, golden-colored pistil (the female reproductive part of a flower), which is the source of the spice. It is the most expensive spice in the world due to its labor-intensive production and very low yield: one pound of dried saffron requires more than 50,000 crocus flowers.

This is just one of many herbs and spices featured in our new Exhibit Lab, Flavors of Morocco, highlighting this North African cultural crossroads, its culinary traditions, and the plants that support them—reflecting the blend of cultures that have intermingled in Morocco throughout history. See it here in our Ross Gallery through March 15.