The traditional art of dyeing has
been practiced for centuries. Every good homemaker knew the basic
principles of dyeing and most had a working knowledge of the local
plants that could be used to create attractive colors on linen, silk and
The search for superior plant dyes accounted for part of the
lust for new trade routes in the 15th and 16th centuries. When
settlers arrived in the new world, they brought with them plants that
they knew how to use as dyestuffs. The lore of dyeing was richly
varied -- each country discovering through experimentation new plant
materials that could be used in the dye vat.
This list of dye plants provides information on possible colors achieved,
typical fabric applications, necessary mordants, and of course which plant
parts to use in the dye pot.
Index to traditional dyer's plants (A to C)
Index to traditional dyer's plants (D to O)
Index to traditional dyer's plants (P to X)
This Heuchera, commonly called
Coral Bells, is grown in the garden for its late spring and
early summer blossoms which dance on short stems above the
pretty basal leaves.
Many species of Heuchera have
traditionally been called Alum Root and are a source of alum
which is used for mordanting purposes. When applied to
wool this hardener fixes the colors applied in the dyer's pot.