coreopsis

tickseed I coreopsis tinctoria I meisjesogen

dye material: flowers

orange | green | yellowred

 

 

PLANT STORY

Also known as Dyer’s coreopsis or Girl’s eyes in Dutch (Meisjesogen), this yellow-orange-burgundy flowering plant is a common character in various gardening landscapes. Originally from North America, coreopsis is a tall, proud-looking plant that grows upright, reaching up to one meter in height. 

The seeds of the plant bear a resemblance to ticks, hence the commonly used name ‘tickseed’ in English. Additionally, the more scientific name ‘coreopsis’ has an interesting origin, as it comes from the Greek ‘koris’, meaning bedbug – also focusing on the tick-bedbug-resembling seed rather than the bright and attractive flowers of the plant.    

As the epithet ‘tinctoria’ suggests, this flowering friend has historically been a popular source of natural dye. Blooming abundantly, the flowers can be used to create stunning shades of yellow, red, green and orange. 

Initially, it was indigenous peoples in North America who used the flowers of this type of coreopsis as a dye. Following traditional techniques, the Zuni used the blossoms of the coreopsis to reach a mahogany red to color yarn. The plant however served multiple purposes and was also brewed into a tea that women drank if they desired baby girls. 

As European colonialists and trade began crossing the Atlantic to North America and back, knowledge about coreopsis and its colorful potential began to spread, and this adventurous flower was incorporated into dyeing practices across continents. While it has historically been a popular player in the natural dyeing universe, it has lost some of its popularity over the years. However, we could expect a comeback, as it is a plant that grows quite easily in Dutch soil and produces stunning colors that should not be overlooked.

PLANT GUIDE 

 

 


planting period
spring

harvest period
early summer – late fall

soil
pH 6-7

sun
full sun / partial shade

water
water regularly (although somewhat drought-tolerant)

planting
scatter seeds evenly at least 5-10 cm apart and without covering them with soil

 


germination
coreopsis germination takes around 10-14 days. Keep the soil constistently moist throughout this period.

maintenance
coreopsis is a relatively low-maintenance plant.
Pinch off flowers to encourage flower production.

flower harvest
harvest flowers continuously after 8-10 weeks. Thereafter new blooms will come in after 2-3 days. 

COLOR PRODUCED

mordant dyes

aluin-mordant

wool

silk

+alkali modifier

wool

silk

+iron modifier

wool

silk