July 21, 2017

Woadwaxen

Genista tinctoria - Dyer's broom | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Genista tinctoria – Dyer’s broom | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

With a common name Elmer Fudd might find easy to say, Genista tinctoria is a shrub native to Europe and Turkey. Known for its bright green stems – which are the source of another common name, dyer’s greenwood – this member of the pea family grows up to 3 feet in height and width, preferring meadows and fields. Other common names include dyer’s broom and woadwaxen, a nod to its use as a dye plant. All parts produce a yellow dye that has been used for centuries to dye wool. When combined with woad, a blue, it produces an “excellent green.” The plant can be found throughout a number of states, but especially in New England, with the exception of New Hampshire. It is hardy to Zone 2.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.

In 2012, Glen began working to catalog the plants of Baxter State Park, which you can read about here and find out how to sponsor a plant of your own. Courtesy of a poll taken in 2012, Garden Maine is sponsoring this lovely plant.