A Grass from Japan















The seeds for this grass (Arthraxon hispidus) were sent to me by a Japanese dyer, who explained that this grass is used traditionally by dyers in Japan, where it is common on meadows and roadsides. It is also grown as a dye crop on the island of Hachijo.

The seeds germinated readily when sown in the Spring several years ago and now the plants self-seed, so each year a fresh crop of plants appears.

Arthraxon hispidus contains luteolin, which is the main colour pigment in weld and dyer’s broom. Although the yellows from this Japanese grass are not remarkable, I enjoy growing and using traditional dye plants from other countries, especially when the seeds have been sent to me by a fellow dyer.

The photo below doesn’t really do justice to the colours, which are actually brighter than they appear here. As with weld, the yellows from Arthraxon hispidus can often have a greenish tinge.


Colours from Arthraxon hispidus 

Left to right: No mordant, alum mordant, alum mordant + iron modifier

3 replies
  1. teresa
    teresa says:

    Hi Jenny, love your blog, so full of useful information, and beautiful colour…I am very interested in this Japanese Grass…I have not dyed with grass but am keen to give it a go now..



  2. Bettina
    Bettina says:

    I am a bit late in commenting (too much to do before christmas:)) – but I have been trying to find seeds for miscanthus tinctoria for a long time. a grass as well, described by master dyer Yoshioka – but all I can find is miscanthus sinensis in variety:(( this is supposed to give yellows too – I might just give the m. sinensis a try instead… maybe bamboo leaves give a dye too? more tests and trial runs for 2010 I suppose:)) have a good time with your visitors – and a happy new year anyway!

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