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Dyer's Woad - Isatis tinctoria
Family: Brassicaceae

flowers April - July

Description

Dyer's Woad is natively found on the grasslands of southwestern Russia. Now it has spread across Eurasia and north America, mainly because of its cultivated uses.

This plant is a member of the Mustard Family, and thus has a flower that can easily be recognized by its 4 petals, and 6 stamen (2 short, 4 long). Like many other mustards, it is yellow.

The Basal leaves on this plant are oval shaped and have long stalks. The rest of the leaves on the stem are narrow and stalkless.

This plant is also a biennial plant, meaning that during the first year there are only basal leaves that stay close to the ground. During the second year the central stalk will develop.

Interesting facts

Dyer's Woad was originally grown in Europe for the blue indigo dye extracted from the leaves. In fact, it became a huge trade in Europe during the Middle Ages. It wasn't until the Asian Indigo plant, Indigofera tinctoria, came on the market that the use of Woad began to loose importance. Economic Botany gives and excellent account of the history and use of Woad as an indigo dye.

Woad also has several medicinal uses from treating cancer, infections and inflammations.

Links to more information


Website, video, and graphics by Rob Nelson
For more information on this plant or management please contact US Army Corp of Engineers

 

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