Woad for dye and roots - 板蓝根 (bǎn lán gēn)
板蓝根 (bǎn lán gēn)
Woad is a member of the Brassicaceae family, where it is a cousin to the cultivated Brassica genus (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and others) and to the mustards (mustard greens, asian greens, bok choi, etc). Listed as invasive in parts of the western United States, woad is illegal to plant there, but in other climates it does not compete aggressively enough with native vegetation and is considered non-invasive. Neither New York nor any New England state prohibits its growth.
Woad leaves were the traditional source of the color blue in dyeing cloth for much of Europe and northern China, while woad root is a traditional Chinese medicinal tea.
I will have both dried woad root and bricks of dyer's woad (retted leaves dried in brick form for use in dye baths) by 2019. I will experiment with extracting to a dried powder form as well. Stay tuned as the project moves forward!
After buying higher quality seed from 3 different sources, I finally have a woad crop! Actually, I'm late in updating- I've already gotten two cuttings from my bed. I bought from these sites- all came up fairly well-Best one (highest germination %, largest plants)- Midgaards Have
Tied for second place, good germination but not as remarkable as first place, was from Thyme Garden Herb Company.
The other tied-in-second is now a dead link to an Etsy shop selling completely unrelated stuff. Oh well.
Anyways, I'll be putting up pictures and maybe some video as I've gone old school and am using the retting vat method (creating a stinky anaerobic vat of rotting plants). I'm used to some rough smells and all the warnings about the smell of the vats is true.