Botanically known as Alkanna tinctoria.
Alkanet is a hairly bristled perennial plant, 10-30cm high. It has dark purple fleshy roots with foliated skin. It has beautiful purple to blue coloured flowers that bloom between April and June. The fruits are greyish nutlets covered with irregular bumps.
Part of Plant Used
The roots are the source of colour that can be extracted and used for dyeing.
Alkanet grows in open, sunny, uncultivated, sandy or rocky places. It can be found all around the Mediterranean and in central Europe. It was also cultivated in Hungary and Germany till the end of 19th century. It grows wild in Asia and along the coast of North Africa.
Dyeing with Alkanet
Lilacs and Violets can be achieved by the use of alum mordant and grey and grey-violet tones with iron mordant. Alkanet is always suggested to be used with a metal mordant to have a permanent fixation on the textile. It had a limited use in dyeing textiles and was used more as a cosmetic colourant. One of the most important points where it stands differently from other dyestuff is the solubility. It is not soluble in water and hence has to be soaked in alcohol for extraction of colour.
To dye wool, silk and cotton, a technique involved the preparation of an alcoholic extract. 65g powdered alcohol dissolved in 1litre of 35% alcohol and heated to 40ºC. This extract pigment is used in the dye bath for textile dyeing. It has a moderate to good colour fastness.
* Also can be used as Soap Making Colorant and Candle Making Colorant.