Saffron (Crocus sativus)—Emil Muench/Ostman Agency

Golden-coloured, pungent seasoning and dye obtained from the dried stigmas of flowers of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), a bulbous perennial of the iris family. Because 1 lb (0.45 kg) of saffron represents 75,000 blossoms, it is the world's most expensive spice. The colour and flavour are essential ingredients for certain Mediterranean and Asian dishes, as well as for special English, Scandinavian, and Balkan baked goods. Since ancient times, saffron has been the official colour for the robes of Buddhist priests and for royal garments in several cultures. Greeks and Romans scattered saffron as a perfume in halls, courts, theatres, and baths.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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