natural dyeing, pokeweed

Freshly picked pokeberries

Pokeweed, also known as Pokeberry (Phytolacca Americana), a perennial plant that grows up to 6-8 feet in height. Like most weed, it is a hardy plant that can withstand poor soil conditions and is considered a pest in some parts of the country. It is a beneficial plant as some birds love the berries and it attracts pollinating insects to your garden.

The part that is used for dyeing is the clusters of deep purple berries that hung on reddish stems. The purple berries are pressed to extract the juice. When mixed with water and a mordant, such as salt or vinegar the juice becomes a dye solution. 

A word of caution: Although pokeweed is used medicinally, it is still considered poisonous and a risk to human and animal health; as the toxins are concentrated in the roots, berries and seeds. The berries may be tempting to young children, so it is best to plant it away from sidewalks.

Following are pictures from last summer depicting the results I got from pokeberry dye bath, extracted from the berries.

squeezing and mashing the berries

striking magenta red stained hands from the berries

simple tests with salt and vinegar

samples of silk and cotton from the berries

a silk top dyed with the juice

~Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.♥
“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest.”

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4 Responses to natural dyeing, pokeweed

  1. What a stunning color- thank you for posting! Is it possible to find this plant in nature here in Northern California, or do you grow it yourself?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Linda Elder says:

    Thanks for this post. What a terrific color on the silk. I have many many pokeberries growing wild by the side of our road in Indiana. I have used the berries for ecodyeing and found them to be fugitive. Have you had problems with fading?


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