Ditaxis heterantha

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Ditaxis heterantha
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Ditaxis
Species: D. heterantha
Binomial name
Ditaxis heterantha

Ditaxis heterantha is a member of the plant family Euphorbiaceae and grows wild in Guanajuato, Mexico, where it is known as azafrán, azafrancillo, or azafrán de bolita and has several culinary uses, including as a substitute for saffron. Ditaxis heterantha is not related to true saffron (Crocus sativus) nor to safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), which also is used as a saffron substitute.

Ditaxis heterantha has dull, dark brown seeds 3–5 mm in diameter that resemble allspice. The waxy, deep orange endosperm of the seed is used in Mexico (particularly Guanajuato) for coloring and flavoring food, such as menudo amarillo.[1] It has an oil content of about 40% and a protein content of about 20%,[2] as well as containing the apocarotenoids heterathin and ditaxin.[3]


  1. ^ "Azafran in Mexico". Chowhound. 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  2. ^ Ma. Dolores Méndez-Robles; Claudia Flores-Chavira; Ma. Eugenia Jaramillo-Flores; Ignacio Orozco-Ávila; Eugenia Lugo-Cervantes (2004). "Chemical Composition and Current Distribution of "Azafrán de Bolita" (Ditaxis heterantha Zucc; Euphorbiaceae): A Food Pigment Producing Plant". Economic Botany. 58 (4): 530–535. doi:10.1663/0013-0001(2004)058[0530:CCACDO]2.0.CO;2. 
  3. ^ L. Del Toro-Sánchez; S. Sánchez; M. A. Ortiz; S. Villanueva; E. Lugo-Cervantes (2006). "Generation of aroma compounds from Ditaxis heterantha by Saccharomyces cerevisiae". Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. 72 (1): 155–162. doi:10.1007/s00253-005-0244-y. PMID 16547703.