Eco dyeing with edible plants: Purple Amaranth

Purple amaranth is an ornamental edible that can dye textiles too.

It self seeds profligately so I have planted it only once, about ten years ago. It gives a great shot of dark burgundy among all the greens and blues and yellows.

The dye bath coloured the textiles shades of  pink, mauve and light purple on (mordanted) linen and silk. It even covered yellow coreopsis and sumac yellow-green dye on linen.

As usual, I bundled the plant material onto a pre-eco-dyed textile and steamed it for an hour to get the colours and the prints. The amaranth simply gave up colour; it did not transfer a leaf shape.

Furthermore, the purple dye was fugitive in heat: at the start of the dye bath, the liquid was magenta; after an hour’s simmering (200 degrees) it turned reddish-orange  and the textile became golden yellow not pink!

Vintage linen refectory cloth, pre- eco-dyed several times, below:  before the amaranth, coreopsis, to give yellow:




2 thoughts on “Eco dyeing with edible plants: Purple Amaranth

  1. I am just starting to use natural plant dyes – have had great success with walnut. I know some plant materials need to simmer at a lower temperature than 200 degrees. Woad leaves are supposed to simmer at no more than 90 degrees and I believe indigo is much the same. I am about to try amaranth with silk and I will try to keep the temp lowere to see what happens.

    1. Thanks Diane. Let me know if you manage to obtain a purple dye from the Red Amaranth. Maybe the temperature in my dye bath was too hign, but I did not succeed in obtaining purple that way, only with the steamed eco-bundle. Of course, I am wondering about the “fastness” (Is that a word?) of the amaranth dye in the (alum mordanted) eco bundle.

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