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SOURCE: True cutch, also called black cutch and catechu, is a gum resin extracted from freshly felled Acacia catechu trees. Acadia catechu trees are native to Asia.
Cutch was used to dye calico in India for centuries in the Mughal and pre-Mughal period. It is so important that Kutch, a district of Gujarat in India, was named after the dye.
Cutch dye creates the color khak (or khaki), an Indian word for dust, earth, and ashes. Cutch was used to dye military uniforms because it provides a natural camouflage color.
- In Ayurvedic medicine, cutch is used as an astringent because of its heavy concentration of vegetable tannins.
- Cutch is commonly used as a spice, for example, it is used in France and Italy in licorice pastilles.
- Cutch is also an important ingredient in South Asian cooking paan mixtures, such as gutka.
SOURCE: Wood from Palo de Campeche, a tree from the Yucatan.
What do pirates, Belize, and Robert Hooke have in common? Logwood.
Long used by the indigenous native Nahuatl people in the coastal Mexican area of Bay of Campeche, logwood became most popular in the 15th century when Spanish explorers discovered it could be used to create beautiful purples, blues and even blacks when dyeing.
Because of its value, pirates from England, France, and the Netherlands would commonly attack trade ships loaded with logwood, as a single ship was worth more than a year’s worth of other cargo. Pirates soon found it was even more profitable to search for logwood on shore.
In the mid-1600s logging camps, worked by “baymen”, were established in the swamplands of what would become British Honduras (and later Belize) to cut and export thousands of tons of logwood to England. Logwood was so important that it was introduced into many West Indies and Caribbean islands, including Jamaica and Haiti, where it became naturalized and harvested on plantations. To this day, a black and white “bayman” is commemorated on the national emblem of Belize, appearing on its currency and the Belize flag.
Now, how does Robert Hooke fit into all of this? The chips from the heart of the logwood tree, produce hematoxylin. It is because of the hematoxylin stain that pathologists can differentiate different types of cells by their nuclei. Logwood’s importance to Pathology cannot be overstated, as its history dates back to Robert Hooke describing hair and wool dyed with hematoxylin in his 1665 book, Micrographica.
SOURCE: Madder, or Rubia tinctorum (common madder), is an herbaceous perennial plant species belonging to the bedstraw and coffee family Rubiaceae. The plant is native to Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, but was early on introduced to the Central and Northwestern Europe where it became naturalized.
Madder roots have been used as a dye for over 5,000 years. Archaeologists have found traces of madder in linen in Tutankhamen’s tomb (1350 BC), ancient Egyptian mummy cloths, and cloaks for Libyan women (5th century BC).
- In Culpepers Complete Herbal, Madder root is recommended for sciatica, yellow jaundice, bruises, spleen obstruction, and failure to menstruate.
- Madder was used to dye the British Redcoats in the American Revolution.
- Madder was used by Egyptians to dye wool, teeth, and hooves on living animals, by feeding it to them.
SOURCE: Skin of the pomegranate fruit
Known as a symbol of love in antiquity, the pomegranate has been a popular fruit for thousands of years. Dyers use the rind to produce golden yellows, greens, greys and blacks. Pomegranate is a deciduous spiny shrub or small tree belonging to the family Lythraceae. The attractive shrub is hardy, drought resistant and long lived (up to 200 years). Pomegranate is cultivated in warm countries all over the world. Immature fruits give pale yellows, while ripe fruits give golden yellows.
- The pomegranate has been considered a long time emblem of fertility, love, and marriage.
- In ancient Armenia, it was a wedding custom for the wives to throw pomegranates against the wall, the seeds that splattered were considered a sign of fertility and abundance of happiness in marriage.
- Pomegranate was on the official logo of the 2015 European Games, "Nar the pomegranate" was one of two mascots featured.
SOURCE: Quebracho (Schinopsis quebracho-colorado) is a tree with very hard wood that grows in the Gran Chaco region of Argentina and Paraguay.
The word quebracho means axe breaker and it comes from the Spanish word ‘quebrar’ (to break) and ‘hacha’ (axe). It is quite slow growing, and therefore is harvested selectively from tree farms that participate in reforestation efforts. Quebracho can vary in colors from coral, warm red brown, to yellow and green, depending on species. It is notably called "the dye that keeps on giving," because of its vast options on color.
SOURCE: Golden wattle, Acacia pycnanth, is a tree of the family Fabaceae, native to southeastern Australia.
Explorer Thomas Mitchell collected a specimen of it, from which George Bentham wrote the official species description in 1842.
The bark of golden wattle produces more tannin than any other wattle species, resulting in its commercial cultivation for production. It has been widely grown as an ornamental garden plant and for cut flower production, but has become a weed in South Africa, Tanzania, Italy, Portugal, Sardinia, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, as well as Western Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales. Wattle, (Acacia pycnantha) was made the official floral emblem of Australia in 1988, and has been featured on the country's postal stamps since.