Synonyms: Krapp. Dyer’s Madder. Robbia.
Common Names :Madder or Common madder
Rubia tinctorum is an evergreen Perennial plant growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a medium rate.The evergreen leaves are approximately 5–10 cm long and 2–3 cm broad, produced in whorls of 4–7 starlike around the central stem. It climbs with tiny hooks at the leaves and stems. The flowers are small (3–5 mm across), with five pale yellow petals, in dense racemes, and appear from June to August, followed by small (4–6 mm diameter) red to black berries. The roots can be over a metre long, up to 12 mm thick and the source of red dyes known as rose madder and Turkey red. It prefers loamy soils (sand and clay soil) with a constant level of moisture. Madder is used as food plants for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the Hummingbird Hawk Moth.
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It is hardy to zone 6. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)
Prefers a light sandy soil in full sun. Plants grown in fertile well-limed soils produce more pigment in the root. This plant was at one time widely cultivated for the red dye obtained from its roots, this dye is now manufactured chemically. However, it is still cultivated in Europe as a medicinal dye plant. The plant produces many side roots that can travel just under the surface of the soil for some distance before sending up new shoots. This species is closely related to R. peregrina.
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed can be very slow to germinate. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for the first year. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Division in spring or at any time in the growing season if the divisions are kept well watered until established. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer
Parts : used :root
Constituents:The root contains rubian, rubiadin, ruberythric acid, purpurin, tannin, sugar and especially alizarin. Pseudopurpurin yields the orange dye and xanthopurpurin the yellow. The astringent taste, slight odour and red colour, are imparted to water or alcohol.
The most interesting of the colouring substances is the alizarin, and this is now termed dihydroscyanthraquinone. This occurs as orange-red crystals, almost insoluble in water, but readily soluble in alcohol, ether, the fixed oils and alkaline solutions. The alcoholic and aqueous solutions are rose-coloured, the ethereal, golden-yellow; the alkaline, violet and blue when concentrated, but violet red when sufficiently diluted. A beautiful rose-coloured lake is produced by precipitating a mixture of the solutions of alizarin and alum.
Alizarin was recognized by Graebe and Liebermann, in 1868, as a derivative of anthracene – a hydrocarbon contained in coal-tar, and in the same year they elaborated a method for preparing it commercially from anthracene. Upon this arose rapidly a great chemical industry, and the cultivation of Madder has, of course, decreased correspondingly until it may be said that the coaltar products have entirely displaced the natural ones.
The root is aperient, astringent, cholagogue, diuretic and emmenagogue. It is taken internally in the treatment of kidney and bladder stones. The root is seldom used in herbal medicine but is said to be effective in the treatment of amenorrhoea, dropsy and jaundice. The roots are harvested in the autumn from plants that are at least 3 years old. They are peeled and then dried. When taken internally the root imparts a red colour to the milk, urine and bones, especially the bones of young animals, and it is used in osteopathic investigations.
When taken into the stomach it imparts a red colour to the milk and urine, and to the bones of animals without sensibly affecting any other tissue. The effect is observed most quickly in the bones of young animals and in those nearest to the heart. Under the impression that it might effect some change in the nervous system, it has been prescribed in rachitis (rickets), but without noticeable favourable results. Dosage, 1/2 drachm three or four times daily.
A very good quality red dye is obtained from the roots. Some reports say that 2 year old roots are used in the spring and autumn whilst others say that 3 year old roots are used. The roots can be dried for later use. The dye can also be extracted from the leaves. It has been used since ancient times as a vegetable red dye for leather, wool, cotton and silk. For dye production, the roots are harvested in the first year. The outer brown layer gives the common variety of the dye, the lower yellow layer the refined variety. The dye is fixed to the cloth with help of a mordant, most commonly alum. Madder can be fermented for dyeing as well (Fleurs de garance). In France, the remains were used to produce a spirit as well. This dye is also used medicinally. The leaves and stem are prickly, the whorls of leaves having spines along the midrib on the underside. This feature enables them to be used for polishing metalwork
Known Hazards: Potential to cause cancers, particularly liver and kidney. From the information currently available it is not recommended as a herbal medicine .
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.