An Ode to Oxalis

Oxalis Flowers

I enjoy creating dyes from natural sources because it forces me to slow down and appreciate what’s growing  in my environment, which is a mix of suburbia and urban, surrounded by farmland.  However, to be honest, I didn’t play much attention to Oxalis (aka sour grass, bermuda buttercup) until someone told me they make a natural dye. Then I noticed them popping up everywhere ~ along sidewalks, next to driveways, underneath mailbox posts. You get the idea.  I quickly picked a large bunch during one of my daily walks, and brought them home for a quick experiment.

Oxalis flowers
Oxalis flowers

I knew this would be an easy dye when they made yellow petal prints on my white table.

I pulled the petals off the stem, put them in cold water, and brought them to a simmer in my small pot on the stove. The water immediately turned yellow. I threw in my alum wool sample, and was pleased when it turned the same vibrant almost neon yellow as the flower.

Oxalis dye

When I posted a picture of this on my Hooked&Dyed FB page, a friend (and non dyer) commented “you mean that weed I have growing all over my yard?” *gasp*  I think the term weed is a harsh term for a flower that is this cheerful.  But yes, oxalis is technically a weed. A weed which also makes a gorgeous dye.  It also looks lovely in a small vase on the table. It’s a sweet reminder that spring is here.


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