Improvement status: Cultivated material
Seeds per packet: ~50
Germination tested 12/2022: 76%
Life cycle: Biennial or Perennial
Woad is the most famous "Old World" blue dye plant, once used throughout the "Western World" until it was largely replaced by indigo in the sixteenth and seventeeth centuries (in fact, the dye from woad is also called indigo). It was used mainly for dying fabric, but also for body paint. It is experiencing something of a revival as a natural dye for artisanal fabric-makers. It is in the brassica family and has pretty yellow flowers. The roots of woad have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine, for a wide range of ailments, commonly made into tea. The leaves are edible, though quite bitter (the flavor is said to improve after prolonged soaking/leaching). It is a biennial or short-lived perennial native to Europe. It has naturalized and become a problematic invasive plant in Western North America, so we will not send seeds to western states. Please check your state's regulations before ordering this fascinating plant. Our seed comes from Aaron Parker of Edgewood Nursery in Maine.
[NOTE: Photo of flowers comes from Matt Lavin, made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.]
GROWING TIPS: Soak seeds at room temp for 24 hours before direct sowing.