Here is some information about history of saffron. human cultivation and use of saffron spans more than 3,500 years and extends across cultures, continents, and civilizations. Saffron, a spice derived from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), has through history remained among the world’s most costly substances. With its bitter taste, hay-like fragrance, and slight metallic notes, the apocarotenoid-rich saffron has been used as a seasoning, fragrance, dye, and medicine.
The wild precursor of domesticated saffron crocus was likely Crocus cartwrightianus, which originated in Crete or Central Asia. Although some doubts remain on its origin, it is believed that saffron originated in Iran. However, Greece and Mesopotamia have also been suggested as the possible region of origin of this plant.
The saffron crocus is now a triploid that is “self-incompatible” and male sterile; it undergoes aberrant meiosis and is hence incapable of independent sexual reproduction all propagation is by vegetative multiplication via manual “divide-and-set” of a starter clone or by interspecific hybridisation. If C. sativus is a mutant form of C. cartwrightianus, then it may have emerged via plant breeding, which would have selected for elongated stigmas, in late Bronze Age Crete.