Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 18, Two Weeds

Posted by Erin Howe on

I read an article recently, about flower farmer/dyer Lorna Jackson in British Columbia who grows flowers and dyes the ribbons that go with them for weddings. Be still my heart. “She’s tried every plant on her farm,” the article states, and I thought, challenge accepted. 

There are two little gray dry-looking weeds that are common here, and, pursuant to Lorna’s challenge, I put them in the pot. First, though, I had to learn their names. Rabbit tobacco, which is a cute name, and Pennsylvania cudweed, which is not. 

Rabbit tobacco, Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium, gave me muted khaki greens:

And Pennsylvania cudweed, Gamochaeta pensylvanica, more of a muted gold.

My ideas of color are undergoing change after change during this process. Where before I’d have seen these colors as plain and uninteresting, I can see those two colors that the silk took in a bias-cut ribbon, wrapped around a wooden spool, or fluttering against a white gown…




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