Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 22, Mulberry

Posted by Erin Howe on

Morus alba, Morus rubra

An honest experiment must include results that didn’t work out spectacularly as well as those that do. So, in the interest of honest experimentation, I bring you mulberry. Which, before we discount it entirely, does have one trick worth mentioning. 

First, I didn’t realize there was more than one kind of mulberry tree in my area, so in my first two photos what’s just labeled “mulberry” is actually the white mulberry. It was introduced to the United States in an attempt to found a US silk industry. Which sort of somewhat succeeded but then failed, and is fascinating to read about. The second set of swatches are from the mulberry native to the southeast US, the red mulberry. 

So, white mulberry leaves:

Pale yellows, and khaki greens for wool. 

White mulberry bark:

Warmer, but still very muted. I’m not sure if I’d seek this one out. 

Then I moved to red mulberry. Leaves:

Again, not much to see. 

But the bark:

Whoa! Ok, so all that mulberry boredom, and out of the pot came this wool, twill ribbon, and silk in an eye-popping mustard yellow. Now, red mulberry bark doesn’t seem to have much interest in cellulose fabrics at all, but the mustard yellow is enough to keep in mind if I’m doing wool or silk, for sure. 

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