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Anthemis tinctoriaAnthemis tinctoria
Dyer's Chamomile

I really like this magic herb, even though my photos of it never come out right! It is cheerful, tough, smells good, and is useful. A native of Europe and the Near East, dyer's chamomile has been used for dyeing fiber for thousands of years. It provides the yellow and buff in Turkish carpets, but it wasn't a common dye in England; they used weld instead, which is more lightfast, although the yellow produced by dyer's chamomile is thought to be a warmer color. The flowers make yellow and the leaves a light green; a mordant is needed for dyeing (alum for yellow and chrome for gold). The flowers are typically dried to store for later use but they can also be frozen with no ill effects to their dyeing properties. Magically, this is a Jupiter herb--it tends to take up a lot of room, it's aromatic, it's bright yellow and makes a yellow dye, and it's bitter in taste. This is a good plant for experimentation in terms of utilizing the dye it produces magically, for instance, in coloring handmade paper for talismans and so forth. I would also try the leaves as a repellent of pestiferous spirits. I've switched to the Kelway variety of dyer's chamomile, as the flowers are more golden, which is better for dyeing.

Anthemis tinctoria second yearThe blueish foliage is very attractive in combination with the cheerful flowers, which attract bees, butterflies, and all sorts of pollinating insects.  This is a great plant for cottage gardens. The first year it makes relatively small plants (see first-year pic above), but the second year (<--)the plants explode into big and bushy and make many flowers. You can plant this in a low water area (I have it in my artemisia bed), and because the leaves are aromatic (nice herby smell similar to tansy or yarrow), deer don't seem much interested in it. Deadheading promotes flowering, which is great if you are a dyer, because you can harvest for a dye job and then come back in a bit to find more flowers. This plant flowers mid to late summer. This plant is also known as golden marguerite, marguerite daisy, dyer's chamomile, ox-eye chamomile, Boston daisies, paris daisies.

How to grow dyer's chamomile
Seeds germinate in 1-3 weeks at room temperature. Transplant to full sun 15-24"/38-60cm apart. It gets 12-36"/45-90cm tall. To increase the plants, you can divide the root ball up in the spring or use softwood cuttings, but it will self-seed and it produces stolons (creeping roots), so it can be somewhat rampant. It is not supposed to live long in clay, but mine is doing great in a dryish rocky clay bed; in fact, I expect it to be difficult to remove this coming spring because they have gotten rather large there.  It can grow in most any type of soil and can even grow by the sea but doesn't like it too hot. Perennial in zones 3-7 (down to -40F/-40C). General growing info

Anthemis tinctoria
Dyer's chamomile, Kelway variety
100 seeds $3.75

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Repelling Imps
Jupiter Herb

Other dye plants:

Dyer's Broom

2008, 2019 Harold A. Roth. No reproduction of any part without permission.