Himalayan Rhubarb (Rheum australe or Rheum emodi) Root creates beautiful gold all the way to mulberry shades as it is pH sensitive. It will happily surprise you with an unexpected shade depending on mordant and dye bath pH. A sturdy perennial native to the Himalayas and Nepal, the dye is also a traditional Ayurvedic, Tibetan and Chinese medicinal herb. It can grow up to 10 feet tall with enormous leaves and thick stalks. All parts of the plant will yield a color but the strongest shades come from the roots.
We offer whole roots that have been ground into a powder which can be simmered in water, then strained to make the dye bath. This preparation is different than Himalayan Rhubarb extract, which is a more concentrated and purified version of the roots and dissolves easily. Liquid Himalayan Rhubarb is very easy-to-use. Each preparation will yield a slightly different set of shades, all in the golden color family.
Use the root from 10% wof all the way to 100% wof for rich colors. The dye is aromatic, with a mysterious patchouli-like fragrance.
We like to use Himalayan Rhubarb on wool fibers but others have found it to be successful on cotton, linen and hemp as well. Use an alum or symplocos mordant for yellow shades. An iron mordant will create olive greens and an alum mordant with an iron post bath will create deep blackened olive shades. The strained materials may be used in eco printing or bundle dyeing and the dye bath may be reused for lighter shades with additional mordanted fibers.