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Dye Plants

Plants of Many Colors!

Here are some of the common dye plants grown at Barbolian Fields.

  Common Name

Scientific Name

Parts Used

How Used


Black-Eyed Susan, Coneflower Rudbeckia fulgida leaves & stems; flowers fresh, dried, frozen Leaves & stems give golds, oranges, olives; flowers give olive-brownish greens
Bronze Fennel Foeniculum vulgare whole shoots fresh yellow to greenish-brown
Comfrey Symphytum spp. leaves fresh or dried greens to browns
Coreopsis C. grandiflora & C. lanceolata whole plant tops fresh, dried, frozen yellow, tan gold, orange, rust, brown
Dahlia Dahlia hybrids flowers: all colors except white fresh or frozen yellow, golds, oranges
Dyer’s Chamomile, Golden Marguerite Anthemis tinctoria leaves, flowers fresh, dried Leaves give olive and light greens. Flowers give yellows and oranges
Dyer’s Coreopsis Coreopsis tinctoria tops: stems, leaves, flowers fresh, dried, frozen yellow, tan, gold, orange, red, brown
Elderberry Sambucus spp. leaves, bark, berries best fresh; also dried Leaves yield yellows-greens; barks give creamy beiges; berries give shades of purple, but not fast
Goldenrod Solidago spp. leafy shoots in early summer; flowers later best fresh; also dried bright yellows & golds to tans & brassy oranges; greens
Hollyhocks Alcea rosea flowers fresh (can be stored in fridge until get enough) Pale colors give yellows, golds, browns. Dark colors give lilacs, purples, mauves, gray-green, browns
Lady’s Bedstraw Galium verum flowers & roots fresh or dried Tops give yellows, oranges, yellow-green, khaki; roots give coral-reds, salmon pinks, dark browns
Madder Rubia tinctorum roots fresh or dried reds
Mahonia / Oregon Grape Mahonia japonica leaves, bark, berries fresh or dried Bark gives greenish to brown colors; leaves give yellow; berries give lilacs
Marigold Tagetes erecta, T. patula, hybrids leaves & flowers fresh, dried, frozen yellows, golds, oranges, tans, olive greens
Marjoram Origanum majorana tops fresh or dried yellows, golds, oranges, browns, gray
Nettles Urtica dioica leaves & tops best fresh; also dried yellow-greens, dark grens, to tans
Rhubarb Rheum spp. leaves & roots fresh is best but also dried Leaves give golds to greens; roots give yellows to mustards, oranges, & coral reds
Saffower Carthamus tinctorius flowers fresh or dried yellows, mustards, reds
St. John’s Wort Hypericum perforatum flowers fresh Wide variety of colors from greens to golds to reds, depending on treatment.
Sunflowers Helianthus annuus whole flower heads & seeds on some varieties fresh Greenish gold, tan, greens. Seeds can give dark blues, blacks, purples.
Weld Reseda luteola new leaves and flower stalks fresh or dried yellows, greenish-yellows, golds, tans, browns, deep olive
Willow Salix sp. bark, leafy stems fresh pinkish-tan, yellow, gray, golds, light brown, olive
Woad Isatis tinctoria leaves from 1st year rosettes; seeds fresh leaves are best; can also be dried Blues! Seeds give mauve to pale greens, tans
Yarrow Achillea millefolium leaves & tops fresh or dried yellows, olive greens, tans
Yellow Bedstraw Galium verum leaves, flowers, roots fresh Leaves & flowers give yellows; roots (fresh or dried) give corals, reds, brick

Dye plants have been my passion for many years. I first started learning to spin wool in 1977. I started raising angora rabbits, Samoyed dogs, and llamas to support my habit. Then I started exploring natural plants to provide some subtle variations in color. I only dye with what I can grow or sustainably wildcraft (I’m not using insects, for example). Above are the plants that we’ll have this year, weather and other factors pending. I will probably also be growing the Amaranth, Hopi Red Dye again, which has worked well for me in years past. Check back on these pages as to availability as the season progresses!

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