Fungi in the Garden

Now that I am aware of the potential pleasures of dyeing with fungi, I keep my eyes open for anything in the garden that may be a possible source of dye colour. I’ve been told that the darker the fungus is in colour, the more likely it is to contain useful dye pigments, so I must bear this in mind, as I don’t want to waste time or fungi by collecting indiscriminately.

I think this mushroom, found growing under some pine trees, is Russula sardonia and I suspect that it will not be useful in the dyepot. However, as there are two largish clumps of it in the garden, I tested a small quantity and found that my suspicions had been correct. The dyebath produced only a pale beige tone on both alum-mordanted and unmordanted wool.

img_1585I think this is Giant Club Fungus (Clavariadelphus pistillaris). It was growing on the stump of an elm tree in our garden.  As it is brown in colour, I thought it might be worth trying it in the dyepot.


img_1658These are the results of the Giant Club Fungus dye tests.

Left to right: No mordant. alum mordant, no mordant + iron. Whilst the colours are not remarkable, the grey from the iron modifier is an attractive and useful shade. However, as this shade can easily be obtained from other sources (e.g. oak galls + iron), I shall probably not be using this fungus again for dyeing.

2 replies
  1. cedar
    cedar says:

    Good experimenting…sometimes, I put some mushroom bits in ammonia and water, and some in vinegar and water, and let sit and see what I get, you sometimes get a preview of what color potential it has…I must say when I first started dyeing with mushrooms not long ago, I notices I have endless words for “beige” all of a sudden….lol taupe, sand, honey, caramel, etc etc…and they all go together

  2. angella
    angella says:

    i haven’t delved into the fungi-dyeing yet in my search for natural dyes, however, i have always been ‘specially curious what the “shaggy ink cap” (Coprinus comatus) might do as far as colour goes. have you ever heard of any results with this variety?
    where i am (the boreal forest in northern alberta, canada) there are abundant drippy oozy caps around, and they call out to be used. they can be eaten when young, but when they start to melt… well, i’ll have to try them out this summer and note the results.

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