Mountain Rose Herbs

Madder Root

Also known as

Dyer’s madder, rose madder, madder lake

Introduction

Madder is a perennial climbing plant with evergreen leaves and small pale yellow flowers. The roots can be over three feet long, and are usually harvested in the second or third year of growth. Considered an ancient or heirloom dye plant; madder has been used throughout history for the brilliant orange and red hues it can produce.

Constituents

Alizarin and purpurin

Parts Used

Root

Typical Preparations

The root is utilized as a natural orange to red dye. With the help of a mordant (usually alum), madder is suitable to dye both plant and animal based textiles.

Summary

The alizarin and purpurin constituents in madder root create rich colors ranging from orange to bright red. Textiles dyed with madder have been discovered in archaeological sites, tombs, and graves dating back to the ancient Egyptians and the Mohenjo-daro site. A decline in the use of madder as a dye occurred in the discovery of the insect based dyes cochineal and lac; with the increasing interest in natural plant based dyes madder root is once again gaining popularity. Due to insufficient evidence madder has no medicinal applications today.

Precautions

None known.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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