Plants and Trees That Yield Natural Dyes Part 3


A large, widely and densely crowned evergreen tree reaching a height of 33 m and a diameter of 2 m. Leaves are oblong to oblong lanceolate. Flowers are 3 to 4 mm with long, pink, red, orange, green or yellow petals. The bark exudes a milky latex when injured.

As dye, they yield a yellow textile dye (a xanthene derivative). In India, the yellow coloring in the leaves, bark and fruit is a dye called “peori dye”.


A large tree which grows up to 40 m high and a diameter of 120 cm. Bole is short, buttress is large, trunk fluted or deformed. Crown is wide spreading. early deciduous for a short time during dry season. Leaves alternate, simple nd shiny. Flowers numerous, bright yellow and fragrant. Fruit is flat, dry, very shortly beaked, containing 0 to 5 seeds. Grows throughout the Philippines. It also grows in India, Indo-China, Borneo, Celebes, New Guinea and the Caroline Islands.

The tree is planted as ornamental and shade tree. The wood is best known for furniture. As dye, the wood is a good source of red dye.

Site Requirements and Propagation

Thrives best in moist, sandy loam or clay loam soils along gullies and streambanks. It grows in elevations as high as 1,300 m and grows in any of the four climatic types of the Philippines. Adapted to temperatures of 22°C to 2°C and an average of annual precipitation of 2,366. Seeds, grafting, budding, marcotting and layering are used for propagation.

Narra blooms as early as March to as late as September every year but the principal flowering season is from July to September. The fruits mature from July to January.


It is a small tree, 3 to 5 m high. The leaves are compound and up to 50 cm long. The flowers are yellow. Pod is oblong, about 7 cm long, and 3.3 to 4 cm wide, hard and shining. Abundant throughout the Philippines. It occurs also in India, Malaya and Java. Grows at low and medium altitudes in dry thickets and parang. Seeds is the method of propagation.

Sibukau is chiefly used as a dyewood, being very popular among the Filipinos for coloring the native fabrics. The coloring matter of sappan wood is brazilin.


A medium sized tree [25 to 30 m in height and approximately 1 m in diameter at breast height (dbh)]. However, under favorable site condition, it may grow up to a height of 50 m with a dbh of 2 m. It is a deciduous tree. Leaves are simple, ovate to round. Flowers are small but numerous and white. Fruits are
round, hard and about 1 cm in diameter which turns brown when mature. A fruit contains 1 to 4 seeds.

The species is well distributed in Asia, Southeast Asia, West Africa and to some extent in Central America, East Africa, and Oceania. It is a native of India and Indonesia. In the Philippines, it is mostly grown in many of the country’s reforestation projects. Extensive plantations could be observed in
the Ilocos Region, Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija, Cebu and in Los Banos, Laguna.

Economic Uses

  • Wood : construction of bridges, wharves, railway carriages, ship decks, wood carvings, and general carpentry.
  • Leaves : leaves and nut have pharmaceutical value.
  • Nut oil : hairgrower
  • As dye : the root and bark is used in Celebes for a yellow stone brown coloring matter. The young leaves are used for dyeing in several parts of West Indies.

Site Requirements and Propagation

It grows well in lowland areas with elevation of not more than 800 m. It thrives well on deep, well drained soil, preferably calcareous soil (soil containing sufficient calcium carbonate). It should not be planted on dry, rocky slope or heavy clays. Rainfall is from 1,000 to 2,000 mm annually. Tolerates dry spells of 4 to 6 months. Temperature ranges from 18°C to 30°C. Propagation is from seeds and cuttings

For more information, contact

Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Central Office: Visayas Avenue, Diliman, 1100 Quezon City
Telephone: (02) 929-6626
Email: [email protected]

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