MadderRubia tinctorium, Rubia cordifolia, and Morinda citrifolia. Madder is one of the oldest dyestuffs known. It is most frequently used to produce turkey reds, mulberry, orange-red, terracotta, and in combination with other dyes and dyeing procedures can yield crimson, purple, rust, browns, and near black. The primary dye component is alizarin, which is found in the roots of several plants and trees. Madder is cultivated and grows wild throughout India, south east Asia, Turkey, Europe, south China, parts of Africa, Australia and Japan. Madder is a complex dyestuff containing over 20 individual chemical substances. Alizarin is the most important of these because it gives the famous warm Turkey red colour. Also present in this wonderful plant is munjistin, purpurin, and a multitude of yellows and browns. Madder is dyed at 35-100% WOF for a medium depth of shade.


Because of the different dye components present in the madder plant, the dyer can coax many colours out and onto the cloth by manipulating the mordanting process, the pH, the temperature, and the dye process. There are hundreds of madder recipes used historically that are intriguing to try including one from Turkey which brings out the purpurin from madder and gives a purple.

For dye recipes please see our Natural Dye Info Sheet