started this year with preparing for a withces brew... Some black
nightshade plants had gone under my radar hiding beneath the feijoa
bushes. Now the plants were tall and the berries ripe for picking. Yes! Let me explain.
found a book on natural dyes at the Founders book fair some months ago.
I was browsing through it with the intention that I might discover
something new that I have easy access to. I was quite sceptical when I
spotted Black Nighshade (Solanum nigrum) berries among sources for
purple. It is generally considered poisonous, not as dangerously so as
Deadly Nighshade, but not one to mess around with. It's also a nuisance
in gardens as it self seeds so readily, as the ripe berries fall when
you disturb the plant.
had just discovered that some young plants had appeared along my back
border = handy supply of material for testing. But I was concerned about
the health and safety when being exposed to the fumes from the dye bath
and also possible skin reactions when wearing items dyed with said
plant. After an afternoon of Googling I had discovered that Black
Nightshade might not be such a meanie after all. Both the young leaves
and ripe berries are used as a food source in some parts of the world.
Some daredevils who had tasted the berries reported them delicious and some had even made pie or jam with them...
Now as I don't have any desire to turn this into a cautionary tale, I didn't taste
any, but the berries smell nice when crushed. You've got to keep in
mind that there are 1,500-2,000 species under the solanum genus and many
different varieties of nightshade, only some of which are edible,
according to Wikipedia.
Which particular variety I have growing in my NZ garden is not known to
me, but I'm suspecting it's unlikely to be exactly the same as the kinds
commonly eaten in Africa or South America. Take care and be sure what
it is you are tasting if you are keen! And then share with others how
that went. My mission is to find out if the plant is of interest as a
source for dye, and I handle it with gloves on in the process.
first lot of plants got culled by a gardener who was not aware of my
intentions. But as is the nature of nighshade, the second generation is
alive and kicking.
Here's my first harvest.
Hapa zome on silk previously solar dyed with pineapple sage.
The jury is still out, but I'll let you know how it goes.
Transforming the world one stitch at a time. Fashion, art, ecodyeing. Colour, contrast, shape, balance, proportion and how that relates to the human experience. Seeker and finder, treading lightly and speaking gently.
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