Remember this bundle of leaves and my excitement about finally meeting E Nicholii, fully grown? The straight, narrow leaves below were supposed to be E Nicholii.
Well. E Nicholii is a well- and long-recognised dye eucalypt, described by Jean Carman and the Victorian Handspinners and Weavers Guild in their classic books, and prized by dyers I have spoken to who were using it in the 1970s and 1980s to obtain reds and oranges. So I was rather surprised to find this result from the best of several attempts:
I did get a roughly orange smudge on some of my fabrics from the ‘E Nicholii’. In the same pot, cooked for the same length of time and on fabric mordanted in the same batch, E Cinerea produced vibrant colour:
In the past, using trees I was entirely confident were E Nicholii (albeit small specimens) I have got something more like this:
These are blocks from a quilt I have been working on…
My own E Nicholii is a tiny specimen, surrounded by a personalised fence to prevent certain marauders with a tendency to dig up anything promising with no thought for the future.
The marauders came past to check what was happening as I took a photo of the tree.
How to explain this eco-printing result? I didn’t identify these trees myself but relied on someone else who was clearly knowledgeable, which is not to say any of us are above error. If I had identified them myself, I would say without hesitation that the dye pot is more reliable than my identification skills. But there are so many variables: these trees were mature while I have tried only young trees–all I have been able to find and identify with confidence. They were in relative shade and growing in a relatively cool spot… I just don’t know!