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from Carol Todd Rowland

Silver-Dollar Eucalyptus, also called Silver-Dollar Gum, is most readily indentified by its round juvenille leaves which are gray-green in color and are attached to the branches by a stem. (Some of the other Eucalypts have the leaves attached directly to the branches.) The mature leaves lose their round shape and become more lance-like.

There are many kinds of Eucalyptus trees, and all the ones I have seen have a distinguishing pungent odor when their leaves are crushed. Their seed capsules vary in size from peasize to 3" in diameter, but they all have a similar bell-like shape. The creamy white flowers of this species grow in 1" clusters, and the seed capsules are 1/2" wide.

The best color is said to come from the round juvenille leaves of this species. Also, all the Eucalyptus trees are said to give the best colors after a dry period - like at the end of a hot, dry summer.

Leaves can be used fresh or dried, but I seem to get the best color from the dried leaves.




24 ounces dried leaves
4 ounces wool, some mordanted and some unmordanted
4 quarts water

1) Cover leaves with water. Soak overnight.
2) Simmer 2-3 hours
3) Strain. Add water if needed to make 4 quarts.
4) Add presoaked yarn. Simmer 1 hour.
5) Cool overnight in dyebath.
6) Rinse.
7) Dry in shade.

Here's a Recipe using Fermented Leaves

From Hilary -
To ferment the leaves:
Strip the leaves, crack or tear (this helps release the colour) place in a bucket or other container, cover with water, seal (lid, plastic, or whatever ), place in a sunny spot or in the warmest spot you have, stir once daily; otherwise forget for as long as you like. I usually leave mine for anything from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. The fermentation is natural...and definitely smelly!!

As well as intensifying the colour, this method also reduces boiling time; in fact if the colour looks good and the leaves look exhausted of colour, I may not boil them after this treatment. I always soak the leaves, fresh or dried, for several days before boiling them as they do not easily give up their full colour otherwise.

Question: What causes different colors from the same species of Eucalyptus?

From Di Reid -
I've done quite a bit of Eucalyptus dyeing with a number of different varieties of Eucalyptus from my area and find that they are good to excellent for colour fastness.

I also find that the colours vary as to when you collect the leaves etc. that your going to use, even from the same tree. It seems to depend on a number of things, such as soil conditions, amount of rain, time of year and if you use them as soon as picked or let them dry and any other reason you can think of. I don't do a lot of dyeing in the hight of summer as I live in a rural area of Victoria, Australia and as I have a copper set up outside and being concious of the possibility of bush fires I do my dyeing from Autum through to late Spring/early Summer

From Bronwyn Clarke -
Re your question about different colours from the same type of eucalypt; there was an indepth study done some years ago about dyes from eucalypts - the main finding was that colours varied considerably due to the amunt of moisture in the leaves and whether drought conditions had prevailed during the growing season.

Eucalypts are actually native to Australia, (which surprises a lot of non-Australians!) but growing conditions vary dramatically from area to area and season to season. The woman who did the study noted that the drier the leaf, the richer the colour. Sorry I can't give you her name and the title of her book - however, I'm pretty sure her study (and therefore book) was referred to in "Dyeing for Fibres and Fabrics" edited by Janet De Boer, published by The Australian Fibre Forum in 1985. I think there's a chapter referring to the study.

From: neki rivera -
Found this in my Hawaii dye plants book by Val Frieling Khon:

"It takes longer than average time to extract dye from the leaves. Pre-soaking for 2 to 3 days will reduce cooking time. Branches or bark can also be used to acquire similar colors."

Then she goes on explaining how she used dried leaves in a copper pot and got the most brilliant orange rust yarn, unobtainable with fresh leaves. She then conludes that it's the copper.

From Linda L. Batzloff -
About the E. polyanthemos. Are you using the leaves from the same tree when you get the reds and khaki? - If you are, are you picking the leaves when it is raining or very damp out?

I've found that if the leaves are picked when it is very dry, or if the leaves are dried, some shade of red usually appears, while when used fresh, just after or during a rainy period, the colours are generally much paler and tend to go
into the khakis.

Several years ago, in San Francisco, Marion Norberg and I spent about two years sampling the various eucalypt varieties in San Francisco, and the different colours obtained from trees of the same variety was startling. For example, there are three trees growing on Portrero Hill that are identical, planted at the same time, get the same water, etc. The colours are all different, one giving a dark rust-red, one an orange and another blah beiges and yellows.

Dyeing with other species of Eucalyptus

Dyeing with commercially produced leaves

From Hilary -
I do most of my dyeing with Euc. or gum leaves. As there are so many trees growing naturally in my area ( Toowoomba Queensland Australia) I have access to many varieties. There are many hundreds of varieties of Eucs in Oz. BTW the terms Gum and eucalyptus are not interchangeable as all gums are eucs. but not all eucs. are gumtrees. Colours obtained depend on many factors such as soil, altitude, seasonal variations, time of year harvested, dried or fresh, fermented or simply soaked. Then of course, whether used as a substantive dye or with mordants.

To answer your query, yes certainly you can use commercially grown leaves; and don't throw away stalks, bark etc. Used separately these can give great colour, often stronger than that from the leaves.

I collect any leaves sent to me via florists, dry them and save for when needed. I also have friends in other areas who send me dried leaves through the post of varieties which do not grow well here.

From Barbara H. Carlbon -
A friend and I tried dying with the greenish gray eucalyptus and the reddish leaved eucalyptus purchased in flower places for decorative additions to arrangements. I don't know the individual names, but we got reddish maroons from
the red, and green/blues from the other.

Eucalyptus cinerea

From Tracey Rand -
A fantastic bright red to orange can be obtained from leaves of Eucalyptus cinerea, which has round, glaucous greyish silver leaves, and a rough dark trunk.

Definitely works better with dried leaves as it seems to concentrate the dye substance. This is my favourite colour. Leaves after rain also seem to give a weaker colour, probably as the trees take up the water while they have it available, and hold more in the leaf, and dilute the dye substance.

Colour obtained also seems to vary from tree to tree; I can always get a bright orange, but the deep carmine seems to come from specific trees only.

Eucalyptus globulus

From Linda L. Batzloff -
E. globulus (Blue Gum) is the only eucalypt that consistently gives me good colours when it is wet. I use only the juvenile leaves from that tree (the adult ones only give me a beige) and depending upon the mordant, I get good yellows and greens, (sometimes verging on the neon)and by adding iron to the pot and allowing it to sit a week or so, very nice pearl greys.


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