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Short + sweet: Dyer's Tickseed

Tickseed/Dyer's coreopsis, Coreopsis tinctoria

Dyer's coreopsis is an annual plant, with filigree leaves and a large number of small flowers. The flowers glow in a warm yellow with a mahogany red eye.

There is also a variant with entirely mahogany red blooms. During summer tickseed is my favourite dye flower in regards to harvesting. It takes quite a bit of time but I so enjoy it.

I pick the blossoms of one half of the flowers in turn, and the next time it's the turn of the others - so there's always plenty left for the insects. At peak summer, there are plenty of flowers to pick every three days.

There are other species of tickseed, some of which are perennial. For example, large-flowered tickseed, Coreopsis grandiflora, which has larger, sometimes double flowers. And a smaller variant, Coreopsis lanceolata, which stays lower than dyer's coreopsis. It may not form quite as many flowers, but might suitable for locations the taller flowers aren't.

Dyer's coreopsis, not only a dye plant

Native to North America, from Canada across the U.S. to northern Mexico, tickseed is found in prairies, meadows and fallow lands.
Thus this dye flower can cope well with drought and might be a wise choice for a climate crisis adapted Dye garden .
In Europe, tickseed was introduced as an ornamental plant. In North America, it is traditionally not just a dye plant. First nations like the Zuni know use them for infusions, to enjoy as hot beverages as well as for medicinal purposes..

Dyeing with tickseed

For dyeing you can use the flowers fresh or dried. At the end of the season, I also harvest leaves and stems for dyeing. Depending on the fiber, concentration and pre-treatment of the dye, the plant dyes golden yellow to apricot to red tones.

If you also leave a few flowers in late summer, coreopsis can self-seed. I have also observed that individual plants in my garden survive the winter, but then do not bloom much in the second year. Maybe you've noticed that too?


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