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40218.  Sat Dec 17, 2005 11:57 pm Reply with quote

Just discovered this, and it's suitably Christmassy:

Poinsettia plants are native to Central America. The ancient Aztecs called it cuetlaxochitl, a name that does not trip lightly from the tongue. Not merely decorative, the Aztecs put the plant to practical use. From its bracts they extracted a purplish dye for use in textiles and cosmetics. The milky white sap was made into a preparation to treat fevers.

Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779 - 1851), the first United States Ambassador to Mexico (1825 - 1829), saw these plants while visiting Taxco in 1828 and sent some back to be propagated in his own hothouses on his plantation in South Carolina. He gave them to friends, and eventually they were sold by a Pennsulvania nurseryman, Robert Buist, under the botanical name Euphorbia pulcherrima ('the most beautiful Euphorbia). Later it was named after Poinsett, who by then had founded the Smithsonian Institution.

40232.  Sun Dec 18, 2005 5:48 am Reply with quote

Punic, a Roman word for describing the Pheonicians and Carthage, is latin for purple and refers to the Carthaginians big dye industry.

gerontius grumpus
40296.  Sun Dec 18, 2005 10:40 am Reply with quote

Woad (Isatis tinctoria) is another dye plant with a long history.
Caesar claimed that the Britons painted themselves with woad and it has been associated with the picts although I don't know if there is any evidence that they used woad as opposed to any other pigment.
The area around Toulouse was once an important area for the production of blue woad dye.

I have grown woad in the garden for several years and last year I found a recipe for extracting the blue pigment and I tried it with some success.
The woad plant is green with yellow flowers(a member of the family cruciferae) and the pigment is not apparent in the living plant.

Quite interestingly the pigment is chemically the same as indigo pigment although the two plants are unrelated.

It was the import of indigo that brought about the demise of the European woad industry.

Mostly Harmless
42186.  Fri Dec 30, 2005 3:46 pm Reply with quote


Last edited by Mostly Harmless on Sun Jan 08, 2006 4:14 pm; edited 1 time in total

42189.  Fri Dec 30, 2005 4:17 pm Reply with quote

gerontius grumpus wrote:
Woad (Isatis tinctoria) is another dye plant with a long history.

Cue Ancient British joke: The Womans are coming, the Womans are coming, get out the woad.

gerontius grumpus
42209.  Fri Dec 30, 2005 7:49 pm Reply with quote

So I said "get out the woad here come the Womans" and they all wan away.


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