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, ConeflowerRudbeckia fulgidaleaves & stems; flowersfresh, dried, frozenLeaves & stems give golds, oranges, olives; flowers give olive-brownish greens
Bronze FennelFoeniculum vulgarewhole shootsfreshyellow to greenish-brown
ComfreySymphytum spp.leavesfresh or driedgreens to browns
Coreopsis C. grandiflora & C. lanceolatawhole plant topsfresh, dried, frozenyellow, tan gold, orange, rust, brown
DahliaDahlia hybridsflowers: all colors except whitefresh or frozenyellow, golds, oranges
Dyer’s Chamomile, Golden MargueriteAnthemis tinctorialeaves, flowersfresh, driedLeaves give olive and light greens. Flowers give yellows and oranges
Dyer’s CoreopsisCoreopsis tinctoriatops: stems, leaves, flowersfresh, dried, frozenyellow, tan, gold, orange, red, brown
ElderberrySambucus spp.leaves, bark, berriesbest fresh; also driedLeaves yield yellows-greens; barks give creamy beiges; berries give shades of purple, but not fast
GoldenrodSolidago spp.leafy shoots in early summer; flowers laterbest fresh; also driedbright yellows & golds to tans & brassy oranges; greens
HollyhocksAlcea roseaflowersfresh (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 BedstrawGalium verumflowers & rootsfresh or driedTops give yellows, oranges, yellow-green, khaki; roots give coral-reds, salmon pinks, dark browns
MadderRubia tinctorumrootsfresh or driedreds
Mahonia / Oregon GrapeMahonia japonicaleaves, bark, berriesfresh or driedBark gives greenish to brown colors; leaves give yellow; berries give lilacs
MarigoldTagetes erecta, T. patula, hybridsleaves & flowersfresh, dried, frozenyellows, golds, oranges, tans, olive greens
MarjoramOriganum majoranatopsfresh or driedyellows, golds, oranges, browns, gray
NettlesUrtica dioicaleaves & topsbest fresh; also driedyellow-greens, dark grens, to tans
RhubarbRheum spp.leaves & rootsfresh is best but also driedLeaves give golds to greens; roots give yellows to mustards, oranges, & coral reds
SaffowerCarthamus tinctoriusflowersfresh or driedyellows, mustards, reds
St. John’s WortHypericum perforatumflowersfreshWide variety of colors from greens to golds to reds, depending on treatment.
SunflowersHelianthus annuuswhole flower heads & seeds on some varietiesfreshGreenish gold, tan, greens. Seeds can give dark blues, blacks, purples.
WeldReseda luteolanew leaves and flower stalksfresh or driedyellows, greenish-yellows, golds, tans, browns, deep olive
WillowSalix sp.bark, leafy stemsfreshpinkish-tan, yellow, gray, golds, light brown, olive
WoadIsatis tinctorialeaves from 1st year rosettes; seedsfresh leaves are best; can also be driedBlues! Seeds give mauve to pale greens, tans
YarrowAchillea millefoliumleaves & topsfresh or driedyellows, olive greens, tans
Yellow BedstrawGalium verumleaves, flowers, rootsfreshLeaves & 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 variations in color. I only dye with what I can grow or sustainably wildcraft (I’m not using insects, for example). We will be adding more information on dyeing with plants in the coming year. Recently, I have also been playing around with foraged mushrooms and experimenting with eco-dyeing techniques, which is rather exciting. More on all of this in pages to come!


Availability of dye plants varies from year to year, depending on weather and other factors, but this is a list of the main ones we grow. Please contact us if you are interested.

Thanks for checking back in!

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