Saffron, or Crocus, L. a genus of plants consisting of seven species, two of which are indigenous : namely,
1. The sativus v. officinalis, Common, or Autumnal Saffron, thrives in meadows and pastures ; flowers in August and September. It is cultivated by planting out the roots in July, at the-distance of five inches apart, and two inches deep, in a good, dry soil, that has previously been well ploughed, and manured with rotten dung.
In the beginning of September, the ground ought to be hoed, and the weeds carefully eradicated; as the growth of the saffron would otherwise be impeded. A short time after, the flowers will appear for several weeks ; and they should be gathered, that is, the stigmata or fleshy summits of the pistils picked off, every morning in succession, before they are fully blown. Next, these tender filaments are to be gradually dried in a kiln, and preserved for use. - A field of saffron will continue to be productive for three or four years, yielding progressively more numerous and larger flowers, as well as an increase of bulbous roots; which, after that period, may be advantageously transplanted to another situation.
Saffron is remarkably fragrant, and is highly esteemed; as it exhilarates the spirits, when taken in small doses; but, if used in too large portions, it produces immoderate mirth, and all the consequences resulting from the abuse of spirituous liquors. It imparts a beautiful colour to water, wine, or sprits.-.
spirits, to which it communicates its virtues.
This drag was formerly considered an excellent remedy in hysteric depressions, originating from spasms, or from obstructions of the usual evacuations ; but, in modern practice, it is seldom employed, though it forms an ingredient in several medicinal preparations. The best saffron is that raised in England, which may be known by the breadth of its blades : it ought to be of a deep red or orange colour j fresh and tough, though neither too dry nor too moist; and of a strong, but pleasant aromatic odour. - It deserves to be more generally known, that mercenary dealers often adulterate this valuable spice with safflower, or with the fibrils of dried beef: the former practice, which is more common and less troublesome, cannot be easily detected; but the latter species of fraud may be ascertained by infusing a few threads of suspected saffron in a wine glassful of simple water; and if, after standing 24 hours, the liquor acquire only a pale-yellow tint, instead of a bright-red hue, it may be concluded that it is not genuine. - On importation, it pays 2s. (9d. per lb.
2. The vermis, Spring or Garden Crocus, is found in meadows, chiefly in the county of Nottingham : it flowers in the month of March. - This species is propagated by seeds in gardens, for the beauty of its flowers, which form a principal ornament in vernal nosegays.