US-Grown Whole Madder Root: Rubia Tinctorum


In stock (can be backordered)


Sold in 100g packages.

We are happy to offer a US-grown whole madder root (Rubia tinctorum). Our crop comes from Washington State, harvested, threshed and dried from three-year old roots. Our grower practices organic methods and is a meticulous processor, so these are really nice fresh roots!

The photo example shows a number of skeins on a dark canvas background. We dyed all of this (approx. 400 grams of fiber) from 60 grams of whole root and there is still color left in the dye bath for additional fibers. At the end of our experiments, we can make a pigment from the last of the dye bath and dry the roots to use in a fermentation indigo vat or for eco-printing. For detailed instructions, please see our how to page.

One bag will dye approximately 100-400 grams of fiber various shades of red, orange, coral and peach.

We also offer another variation of whole madder root (Rubia cordifolia).

Brittanica’s definition:

“Madder, (genus Rubia), genus of about 80 species of perennial plants in the madder family (Rubiaceae), several of which were once commonly used as a source of dye. Madder species are distributed throughout the Mediterranean region, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The plants are generally characterized by whorls of lance-shaped leaves covered in clinging hairs and by small yellowish flowers that grow in clusters. Madder species produce a number of phytochemicals, including quinone derivatives, that are of interest to pharmaceutical researchers.

The common madder (Rubia tinctorum), the Indian madder (R. cordifolia), and the wild madder (R. peregrina) were formerly cultivated for a red dye known as alizarin, which was obtained from the ground-up roots. That dye was used for cloth and could be prepared and applied in such a way as to yield pink and purple shades as well as red. The dye properties of the madder root appear to have been known from the earliest historical times; cloth dyed with madder has been found on ancient Egyptian mummies, and madder was used for dying the cloaks of Libyan women in the time of Herodotus (5th century bce). Madder was also employed as a medicinal treatment for amenorrhea (failure to menstruate) in ancient and medieval times. Alizarin stains the bones of animals that feed upon madder plants, and that property was used by 19th-century physiologists to trace bone development and to study the functions of the various cells involved in those processes. In the 1860s researchers discovered how to manufacture alizarin synthetically, and the use of madder as a dyestuff has become mostly limited to artisanal cottage industries.”



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