Crocus sativus L.
Saffron, the most expensive spice in the world, is derived from the dry stigmata of the saffron crocus, a member of the family Iridaceae. The family Iridaceae is included in the order Liliales.
The first mention of the crop of saffron dates back to 2300 BC, near the river Euphrates in Babylon.
In ancient times saffron was an important dye, but nowadays its main uses are cooking and colouring foods, especially Spanish rice. The major components for the colouring strength of saffron are cis and trans crocins.
Saffron is hand-harvested at the flowering season at the end of October and beginning of November. The process of picking the stigmata have been separated from the flowers, careful drying is needed to produce a product of good quality. The loss of weight in this process is about 80% with respect to fresh weight of stigmata. The final product may be stored in paper, cloth or plastic containers.