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Dyer's coreopsisCoreopsis tinctoria
Dyer's Coreopsis

Cherokee, Zuni, and Apache made a mahogany red dye from this North American native plant. The Navajo incorporated it into a ceremonial lotion and also took it as a cold infusion with salt to treat lightning infection, in which a material given off by lightning was absorbed by the person or animal and caused the body to swell. They also used it as a Life Medicine, which meant it was picked and dried before use and combined with other herbs for medicinal treatments of, for instance, strains and swellings. The picking was done with reverence, involving prayers and pollen applied as a sort of blessing and/or sacrifice to the plant. Zuni women infused the leaves and flowers as a tea (which apparently was red) to ensure female children. This magic herb is a good choice for ceremonial dyes, fertility magic, and protection from lightning. The rulership of this plant is not clear, but I am going to say Fire/Sun, due to the color of the dye and the appearance of the flowers. This, though, is clearly a female kind of Fire. Also known as wild flax, calliopsis, plains coreopsis, and golden tickseed. Top

How to grow Dyer's Coreopsis
Start a few weeks before last frost inside or direct sow outside after danger of frost. They get 2-3ft/60-90cm tall and 9-12in/22-30cm wide. They look weedy at first and then bloom in 8-12 weeks. This is the kind of airy plant that looks better in a group than singly and enjoys leaning against it comrades rather than having distance between plants, which tends to make them flop, so although a plant spacing of 6"/15cm is recommended, you can plant them much closer. A good choice for cottage gardens, it attracts bees, butterflies, and finches like the seeds. It's easy to harvest flowers for dyeing--just pull them off, but be careful of the bees; they love them. Picking will encourage the plant to produce more flowers. You can dry the flowers for storage. A good rich yellow dye with alum or tin on wool and a reddish orange dye in an alkaline dyebath (add a bit of ammonia or soda ash) on wool with a chrome mordant. Two dozen plants should give enough flowers to dye a pound of wool. Works on silk also. Dry flowers on a rack or in a dehydrator or freeze them for later use. Nice for a cut flower. Reseeds readily.  General growing info  Top

Coreopsis tinctoria
Dyer's Coreopsis
500 seeds $3.25

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Dyer's Chamomile
Dyer's Broom
Dyer's coreopsis

Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Protection from Lightning
Fertility Magic
Ceremonial Dye
Sun/Fire Herb

© 2011, 2017 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission.