Weeds, seeds and dyestuffs around the neighbourhood

When roaming my neighbourhood in the suburbs, I am sometimes just wandering and only incidentally finding dyestuffs I might want to collect and take home.  Sometimes, though, I go out with a concrete plan.  I was out and about one weekend in April looking to collect saltbush seed for propagation and dyestuffs for stuffing, steeping and storing. I had success in a couple of places with hibiscus flowers that had bloomed and shrivelled away, so I deadheaded a few neighbourhood hibiscus.  They went into a jar for dyeing purposes… and folk on Ravelry inform me that these are tropical hibiscus and not hardy hibiscus, from a North American point of view (good to know, as I have North American dye books and ‘hardy hibiscus’ is not a category I have heard here).


I also managed to collect saltbush seed, but by then it was too dark to take a picture.  Mostly because I was waylaid by caltrop.


I find this weed especially loathsome because it has vicious, large thorns which help spread its seeds around, and they are cunningly organised so that they break apart and lie on the ground with the spine of the thorn pointing toward the sky,  Which is to say, just about every thorn on a caltrop plant will come to maturity pointing toward any passing foot or bicycle tyre.  I have spent a lot of persistent effort eradicating it from a local park which sees a lot of barefoot children and passing bike traffic.  This was the first time I had seen it in this particular location, so I pulled out every single plant I could find and carried them away to the nearest bin I could find.  Three cheers for bin night.


On the up side… the caltrop was growing beside some miniature statice in a spot so unpromising that only tough customers like these two plants could make it there.  So… I gathered seed from the statice which I’ll try to propagate in due course too!


I’ve had my eyes open and it looks to me like it is time to plant these seeds–little plants are emerging in this unpromising spot.  The seasons are turning toward spring.


Filed under Natural dyeing, Neighbourhood pleasures

5 responses to “Weeds, seeds and dyestuffs around the neighbourhood

  1. caltrops are of course an instrument of war – a vicious three pronged spike strewn in the path of infantry and more to the point, cavalry .. exactly like that plant. in spain I find a seed head on my finca that does the same thing, though it small it has to be extracted from the dog’s paw pads and my sandal soles, enough to make her limp and come asking for help and enough to be annoying on the birkenstock sloes when you go indoors and half a dozen of them take the rubberiness out of your footfall .. you can’t walk around barefoot in the summer and autumn. it’s from a little flowering plant that looks like a yellow daisy.


  2. Pingback: Earth hours | Local & Bespoke

  3. Daniel

    Where did you find the seafrom statice

    I’ve been given some from a plant hunter who is no longer with us and I would love to know the name and origin.


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