As the wheel of the year turns and we head into late Summer and early Fall, I thought I would share with y'all some of the native plants that can be used to create color. First, we'll talk about goldenrod.
Goldenrod is native to the United States and grows abundantly in the Southeast. The beautiful yellow flowers produce a warm gold. Harvest the blooms before they are fully opened for a clear yellow. Goldenrod contains a lot of color and where as with most fresh plant material you need at least 100% or more based on the weight of the fiber, with goldenrod you only need 50-75%. You can dry the flowers for tea, but not to save for color. Although, according to Jim Liles, you can process the blooms and freeze the dye bath in gallon containers. If you include some of the leaves and stems in the dye bath, you get more of a bronze color. Goldenrod over dyed with indigo produces beautiful greens.
Historically goldenrod was used for its medicinal properties by the Native Americans and later European settlers. A lot of people think the Fall seasonal allergies are caused by goldenrod, but actually it's caused by the seemingly insignificant ragweed that blooms at the same time. Interestingly, goldenrod tea is an effective remedy for upper respiratory congestion.
If you would like to learn more about goldenrod's dye properties, please check out "The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing" by Jim Liles, "A Dyer's Garden" by Rita Buchanan, and "Want Natural Color?" by Jeanie Reagan. For more information on its medicinal properties, you can read "Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians" by Patricia Kyritsi Howell.