Friday, October 1, 2010

Looking for something red.

Red is the extreme of colour, symbolise blood as the essence of human life. The other day, I was watching TV on shoe crabs. That sea creatures have blue blood. Other little animals like insects, even if they have blood , the blood is not red. So it seems, red is the colour of blood for bigger animals only, to transport nutrients, enzymes, oxygen etc. throughout the body. Then we may want to ask why plants are colourful. The green in most leaves are pigments of chlorophyll that helps plants to capture sun's energy and convert to food for growth. Other colours are adaptations to protect plants from disease and to attract insects, birds and mammals for pollination and distribution of seeds.

There aren't many elements in my garden which are red in colour.

 leaf stalks of lady's finger

 a little red mark at base of lady's finger petals

roselle fruit

Natural dyes can be found right in our own garden. I am sure, those displayed above can be useful as a source of red dye. The followings are some other sources of dye.
most leaves - green
carrot - orange
marigold - yellow
tumeric - yellow/orange
iris roots - grey/black
daylillies - purple
hibiscus flower - red

If we still have small children or grandchildren around, doing experiment on dying fabrics using plants, leaves, roots and flowers from the garden should be fun...



  1. Soon if we do not already . . . we will have grandchildren to learn about dyes from plants. Lovely and interesting post! ;>)

  2. Red color can remind me of a red & ripe tomato.
    Well, as you mentioned, Red color means the power of life which can animate human beings!, I believe.

  3. Red is one of my favorite colors in the garden. I just love it. One of these days I'll use some dye from the garden and dye yarn to make some socks.......

  4. Bangchik, You do have red hibiscus, don't you? Your roselle is looking great. Mine died on me. I thought it is a hardy plant.

  5. I only have one plant that has red on it, it's a roselle too! But with just a few fruits, what can I do with it? I just let it dry to get the seeds. Can the fruits be dried and stored? Any ideas? Your roselle are fabulous!

  6. Beautiful reds in those pictures / gittan

  7. Red reminds me of my passion flower. Love that roselle.

  8. Interesting fact about green- it's thought that land plants tend to be green as their ancestors in the seas were competing with algae that were utilising complementary wavelengths of light. (better explanation here:

  9. carol - there bound to be children wanting to learn about new things. Dyes from plants should be fun..

    takaeko - yes, red tomato! At least one tomato is turning orange already in my garden. It will soon be red.

    Kim and Victoria - I am sure you will show socks organically dyed soon....

    One - yes, hisbiscus as hedges. Since the flowering is non stop, I have forgotten about them..haha. But roselle is not as tough as ulam raja. It resembles lady's finger in the lack of strength to stay vertical.


  10. kitchen flavours - I pick roselle for juice and jam. To produce juice, the red outer skins that hold the seed pods need to be peeled. Boil and take the juice. The remaining fleshy parts can be further boil with sugar to get jam. If the quantity is small, try mixing them with pineapple. I always dry the seed pods minus the fleshy part...

    Gittans - thanks, i imagine you are now gearing up into winter gardening.

    Aaron - Yes red in passion flower is exotic.

    vtg - yes, we do have to trace back to the beginning, as history is suggesting how lifes evolved in water.

    Thanks everyone, have a great weekend. ~bangchik and kakdah, Putrajaya Malaysia

  11. I would love to learn how to use plants for dye! There is so much to learn and so much to be gained from plants. Thanks for the post :)

  12. BlushandBees ~ I am not used to plants dye for fabrics. But Kakdah has been using dyes from plants in her cooking. She will apply tumeric and salt all over the fish before frying. She will use pandan leaves to get green coloured cendul (cendul is local delicacy). and She will use the blue flowers of clitoria ternatea to make "nasi kerabu" more colourful.


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