Biennial plant, less often annual. Dyer’s rocket is a rare, drought-resistant, and strongly melliferous plant. The intense color of flowers used to be used as a dye. Wild, non-cultivar seeds.
€1,50 – €3,75
Polish name: dyer’s rocket
Latin name: Reseda luteola
Family: the mustards Brassicaceae
Status in Poland: cultivated in Poland, comes from Mediterranean Basin, rarely goes feral, more often in the south than in the north of Poland
Imposing (0.4-1.5 m high), but only a biennial plant with erect shoots and yellowish inflorescences.
Develops strong, thick taproots . In the first year of life, it only develops a rosette, in the second – an inflorescence, then an infructescence.
Dyer’s rocket stems are alternate distichous foliaged, highly branched, and very rigid.
Shoot leaves on very short petioles, lanceolate and entire-margined.
It blooms from June to September, forming highly elongated, dense raceme inflorescences. The individual flowers of the dyer’s rocket are characterized by the fourfold symmetry typical of the mustards and a yellowish color, which is frequent for this family. The upper petal has 4 or 5 lobes, the other 3 petals have only 3 lobes.
The fruit that ripens in September or October will be a single-ovule, spherical capsule (2-4 mm in diameter), containing lots of inconspicuous seeds. A single seed weighs only 0.2 micrograms.
Dyer’s rocket is best to sow in the autumn in a sunny place, in a fertile, but permeable, alkaline substrate.
Withstands partial shade and neutral or slightly acidic soils. Cutting off the withered inflorescences forces the plant to continue flowering.
Resistant to drought, does not like too wet locations.
Until the invention of synthetic dyes, the dyer’s rocket was one of the most important dyeing plants in Europe. Strong, golden pigments were obtained from the upper sections of the inflorescence: luteolin and apigenin (2-4% of the dye in the dry matter of the herb).
They were used to paint the walls in the salons of the upper class. Animal (protein) fibers were also dyed with them, such as silk, linen, and wool. Among the plant materials, linen absorbed them quite well. Industrial oil used to be pressed from the seeds of the dyer’s rocket, which was used in the production of varnishes. One hectare of dyer’s rocket plantation provided – depending on the climate, cultivar and cultivation method – from 60 to 100 kg of dyes. The raw material was harvested about 2 weeks from the beginning of flowering, then carefully dried at a fairly low temperature (40-60degrees C).
The melliferousness of this plant is very good. Dyer’s rocket is often sown to increase the value of bee pastures. We can also meet it in flower margins, and orchards.