Dye Plants

Plants of Many Colors!

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

  • Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria)
  • Alder (Alnus spp.)
  • Amaranth, Hopi Red Dye (Amaranthus cruentus x A. powellii)
  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
  • Bayberry, Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera)
  • Berberis / Red Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
  • Betony / Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis)
  • Bilberry, Whortleberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)
  • Blueberries (Vaccinum corymbosum)
  • Bugloss (Anchusa officinalis)
  • Calendula / Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
  • Calliopsis (annual) / Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)
  • Cane fruits: Blackberries et al. (Rubus spp)
  • Cedar, Western Red (Thuja plicata)
  • Cleavers (Galium aparine)
  • Coreopsis  (Coreopsis tinctoria, C. lanceolata, C. grandiflora)
  • Crocosmia, aka Montbretia (Crocosmia aurea)
  • Curly Dock (Rumex crispus)
  • Dahlias (Dahlia spp.)
  • Dogwood (Cornus amomum)
  • Elderberry (Sambucus caerulea, S. nigra)
  • Elecampane (Inula helenium)
  • False Indigo, Blue & white (Baptisia australis, B. leucantha)
  • Fennel, wild & bronze (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
  • Flax, Rainbow New Zealand (Phormium tenax)
  • Golden Marguerite, aka Dyer’s Chamomile (Anthemis tinctoria)
  • Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)
  • Good King Henry; Mercury; Fat-Hen (Chenopodium Bonus-Henricus)
  • Gum Plant (Grindelia robusta)
  • Gunnera (Gunnera manicata)
  • Gypsywort (Lycopus europaeus)
  • Hazlenut / Filbert (Corylus)
  • Hibiscus, “Kenaf”, “Indian Hemp” (Hibiscus cannabinus)
  • Hollyhock (Alcea rosea)
  • Hollyhock mallow; aka Vervain Mallow (Malva alcea, var. fastigiata)
  • Hops (Humulus lupulus )
  • Horehound (Marrubium vulgare)
  • Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)
  • Kinnikinnick, bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
  • Korean Bush Cherry (Prunus japonica)
  • Lady’s Bedstraw (Galium verum)
  • Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris)
  • Lichens (Foraged species)
  • Madder (Rubia tinctorum)
  • Mallow, Common (Malva sylvestris)
  • Maple tree, Big Leaf & Vine (Acer macrophyllum, A. circinatum)
  • Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria; Spirea ulmaria)
  • Mignonette (Reseda lutea)
  • Milkweed – Asclepias (Asclepias syriaca, A. tuberosa, A. speciosa)
  • Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
  • Mullein (Verbascum thapsus – L.)
  • Mushrooms (Foraged species)
  • Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera)
  • Plantain – Rugels (Plantago rugelii)
  • Plums: Dunbar, beach, Italian, et al. (Prunus spp.)
  • Rudbeckia / Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)
  • Safflower Zanzibar (Carthamus tinctorius)
  • Sage, Russian (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
  • Saint John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Siberian Pea Shrub (Caragana arborescens)
  • Sunflowers (Helianthus annus)
  • Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)
  • Weld (Reseda luteola)
  • Willows (Salix spp.)
  • Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
  • Woad (Isatis tinctoria)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium, A. filipendulina)

Although dye plants have been my passion for many years, I admit – I am still a beginner, and many of these plants I have not yet tried (I need another lifetime for all this experimentation!)

I have had very good results with coreopsis, dahlias, golden Margeurite, goldenrod, hollyhocks, lady’s bedstraw, madder, maple tree acorns, osage orange, safflowers, St. John’s Wort, sunflowers, and weld – and I would recommend these to beginners. Woad is a little trickier to get the coveted blues, but I am going to try again this year. We will have these plants available this year in the gardens.

I only dye with what I can grow or sustainably wildcraft (I’m not using insects, for example). Also, I do not use harsh chemicals for mordants.

Recently, I have been experimenting with foraged mushrooms and lichens and trying eco-dyeing techniques on linen and silk, which is rather exciting. More on all of this in pages to come!

Thanks for checking back in!

~ * ~

-blythe

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