Herbarium International
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Herbarium International

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Rubia tinctorium (Dyer’s madder) and Rubia cordifolia (Indian madder). Madder is one of the oldest dyestuffs. It is used to produce turkey reds, mulberry, orange-red, terracotta, and in combination with other dyes to give crimson, purple, rust, browns, and near blacks. Madder is cultivated and grows wild throughout India, south east Asia, Turkey, Europe, south China, parts of Africa, Australia and Japan. Madder is a complex dyestuff containing multiple colourants. By manipulating mordanting, pH, and temperature many shades can be obtained. . Madder is dyed at 35-100% WOF for a medium depth of shade.


Madder develops to its deepest and richest reds in hard water – water containing calcium and magnesium salts is ideal. Rubia tinctorium Alizarin is the primary dye molecule found in the roots, it gives the famous warm Turkey red colour. Also present in this wonderful plant are munjistin, purpurin, and a multitude of yellows and browns. For clear reds of rubia tinctorium do not let the temperature go above 72ºC (160ºF). At higher temperatures the browns of this madder plant come out and dull the colour.

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