Saffron (botanical name: crocus sativus) is the most expensive spice in the world. Iran produces over 90% of the world’s saffron – some 400 tonnes. India is the second largest producer of saffron, followed by Greece, Spain, Morocco and Azerbaijan. The delicate purple leaves of the crocus sativus plant, which sprouts for just 10 days in a year, hold just three or four stamen of saffron. It takes approximately 70,000 to 250,000 flowers to extract one pound of saffron. The flowers have to be hand-picked in autumn when they are fully open, which is mostly done by women. About 15 tonnes of high grade Iranian saffron is exported to world markets every year, where it is repackaged under different brands. Saffron is used in Spanish paella, Indian biryani and Swedish saffron buns.