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Reseda luteolaReseda luteola
This Mediterranean herb is the oldest yellow dye plant in the world. It is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as rikhpah and still grows in Israel. The Romans dyed the robes of the Vestal Virgins and wedding clothing with this magick herb. It was a favored dye in Persia in the Dark Ages and widely use in Europe as a dye in the Middle Ages. Weld is a more concentrated yellow dye than most dye flowers but was superseded by tropical dye plants after the European invasion of the New World. The leaves have the most intense dye, but the whole plant (except roots) contains dye. It is especially nice on wool, but can dye cotton or silk as well. With an alum mordant, weld makes lightfast lemon yellow on wool and silk, with copper it makes greenish yellow, with iron it makes olive.  Combined with woad, weld makes green (usually the woad is done first); this is called Lincoln Green and was the color of the clothing of Robin Hood's men. It is also the basis of Saxon green, which is weld over Saxon blue (a light blue created by indigo dye treated with sulphuric acid [oil of vitriol]).  Weld dyed the clothes of the common people in Great Britain but the silks of wealthy Vikings (this dyed silk was imported, though). Top

Dyeing with Weld. Six to seven first-year rosettes or two second-year blooming plants will dye a pound of wool and can be used fresh or dried. Chop the plant. If using dried leaves, crumble and soak in warm water for six hours before using. Simmer, don't boil, for one hour, and strain out the herb. Add some washing soda to make the dye bath alkaline, then add wet fiber to the bath and simmer for an hour. Keep stirring, because this dye tends to sink to the bottom of the pot. Don't boil, or it will turn brown. You can also use dried leaves equal to 1/2 the weight of fabric as a measurement. Top

Other Uses. An excellent magickal ink can be made by macerating weld in alcohol; this makes a yellow ink good for drawing amulets and talismans for protection and offensive magick. Or consider dyeing ritual clothing with weld for use in magickal protectiong or ritual attack. Along with other natural dyes like indigo, cochineal, and madder, weld was turned into a "lake" (by precipitating it onto an opaque substance, like chalk) and used in painting and in medieval manuscript illumination as a substitute for the poisonous orpiment and to signify gold. It grew wild in southern England but farther north might well have been found in cottage gardens growing against south-facing walls. It is certainly a candidate for medieval gardens and was grown in North American colonial gardens. In Britain it was used, rarely, as a poultice on wounds and bites of snakes or stings of insects, which implies a Mars nature, despite the fact that it lacks thorns. Indeed, it is hot and drying to the third degree, according to Gerard (apparently the root tastes like a radish). It was not much used medicinally because of its heat but was recommended against the plague, which to me says it was probably a last resort type herb. Weld flowers attract bees and butterflies, and cattle, goats, sheep, and donkeys like to eat it. Weld is also known as wold, dyer's weed, green weed, dyer's broom, mahabbet chichegi, muhabbetcicegi, pastel sauvage, thail ath thikh, wouw, dyer's rocket, yellow weed, wild mignonette, Lus Buidhe Mr, and dyer's mignonette. Top

How to grow weld: If you have a short season, start plants indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost. Surface sow - seeds need light to germinate in 7-14 days at room temperature. Otherwise, plant outside in early spring, barely covering the seeds. Weld is a biennial in zones 5-9; elsewhere, grow it as an annual (it won't flower). It forms a rosette the first year and in the 2nd spring shoots up a stalk to 5 ft/1.5m but more normally up to 3ft/1m. It flowers June-August and ripens seeds August-September. Weld likes dryish, chalky soil (it's often found growing around limestone quarries, gravelly banks, stony roadsides--planting around walls would duplicate this) but it can grow in any kind of soil. Plant in full sun up north and partial shade in the South. This plant shows its aggressive Martial nature by reseeding all over the place if you don't watch it. General growing info. Top


Reseda luteola
100 seeds $3.75

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Other dye plants:

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

Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Honoring Vesta
Celebrating Weddings
Protection Spells
Attack Magick
Mars Herb

2004, 2018 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission