Starting this week, we will be posting short, but hopefully informative, articles on natural dyes . Each post will cover a traditional natural dye, presented in order in which the colors appear in the rainbow. Below are some examples of wool yarn dyed with natural dyes.
Madder Root has been used for centuries to produce red, orange, and orange brown natural colors of fibers and fabric. The color chemical is called alizarin.
The most common species known is Rubia tinctorium. It is a perennial that can be grown in colder climates. Normally the plants are planted in a deeply tilled bed of soil., The bed is tended for 2 years allowing the roots to spread and mature. At the end of the two years, half of the bed is dug up to harvest the roots, which are then dried. The other half of the bed is left to grow more roots for future harvests.The roots resemble bright reddish orange worms when dug.
There is a North American wild native plant , Lady's Bedstraw, Galium verum, that supposedly also has the dye chemical in it's roots. It's physical appearance resembles Madder. The amount of the dye found in the roots is supposedly less than in Rubia tinctorium. However we yet to test the plant roots as a dye to verify these claims.
Another species of madder is Indian Madder , Rubia cordifolia. also know as Munjeet.
As with Rubia tinctorium, the colors that it yields vary from red, through orange, and orange brown.