Osage orange (Maclura pomifora) is native to Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas but has naturalized throughout many other states. It has a yellow heartwood sometimes streaked with red that makes a bright and lightfast yellow dye. Osage was one of the dyes used to make khaki colored uniforms during the first World War and was also used as windbreaks and natural fencing in the Great Plains region of the US. Due to its extreme durabilty, osage wood is used to make hunting bows, railroad ties, wagon wheels and fenceposts. The osage tree produces large bumpy fruits called “hedge apples”; these are not edible but contain certain anti-fungal properties from the pigment pomiferin that reduces spoilage.
Our osage sawdust has been milled from downed trees and is very strong, producing a very bright yellow on wool with an alum and tartar mordant. When osage is overdyed with indigo, it produces deep greens and when iron is added to the dye bath, the color shifts to moss green.
It is available seasonally and 100 grams will dye about 1 pound (500 grams) of fiber.