SAFFRON (כַּרְכֹּם, H4137). Karkom could be Indian Saffron or Crocus Saffron, the latter name indicating the plant from which the flavoring powder comes.
Saffron comes from the upper end of the style of Crocus sativus. It needs over 4,000 crocus flowers to produce 1 oz. of saffron.
The flowers must be picked early, just as they start to open, and the pistils are then carefully removed. These are then dried in a portable kiln, so as to evaporate the moisture.
In hot countries, the stigmas can be dried in the sun. The powder is used for flavoring cakes, stews and curries. The plant is a native of Pal., and was known to Solomon.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
Identical with the Arabic kurqum, the same as za`faran, "saffron." The source of the true saffron is Crocus sativus (Natural Order, Indaceae), a plant cultivated in Palestine; there are 8 wild varieties in all of which, as in the cultivated species, the orange-colored styles and stigmas yield the yellow dye, saffron. So 4:14 probably refers to the C. sativus. There is a kind of bastard saffron plant, the Carthamus tinctorius (Natural Order, Compositae), of which the orange-colored flowers yield a dye like saffron.