Weld (Reseda luteola)
Also known as Dyers Rocket weld is a hardy biennial which produces attractive flat rosettes of long slender leaves throughout its first year and long tall spikes in the second year, growing to 1.5 metres. It flowers between June and August and is an excellent plant for attracting wild life.
The highest yield of dye seems to be obtained from weld which is grown in alkaline soil and low in nitrogen. The seeds are very small and need light to germinate. The plant does not transplant well so ideally the seeds should be sown in their flowering position in early spring by preparing a fine tilth and sowing the seeds thinly on the surface of the soil.
To harvest weld cut the plant about 10 days after the start of flowering. The leaves, flower heads and seed capsules provide the maximum dye content. The plant can be used fresh or dried and stored to be used at a later date.
Weld is a Mediterranean herb which was used by the Romans to dye the robes of the vestal virgins.
With alum mordant weld produces an outstanding yellow on wool and silk. Woad over dyed with weld makes Lincoln Green which was the colour of Robin Hood and his merry men’s clothing.
Two weld plants in bloom or six rosettes will dye a pound of wool a beautiful strong yellow.
We sell weld pigments and seeds at The Beehive Shop and online at www.dyeing-crafts.co.uk