7 July 2012

Dyed in the Wool

A few days ago I called in at Martin's Meadows - the Dyer's greenweed (Genista tinctoria) was in full bloom and a buzz with bees.
A native of old grasslands and green lanes of the  boulder clay this member of the pea family really shines out in the meadow.  It's rich yellow flowers were once used for dyeing   fabric - hence its name.In addition to being an uncommon native plant in Suffolk, Dyer's greenweed was once widely cultivated. The account of the species in Martin Sanford's excellent  'A Flora of Suffolk' (2010) includes reference to Dyer's greenweed being cultivated and harvested in fields near Debenham in the 19th Century, with the resulting harvest going off by the cart load to be used for cloth dyeing in Haverhill.
Having been fairly widely cultivated, it is likely that the current Suffolk population of the plant is a mixture of both the true native and relics of cultivation.
It only occurs in one meadow at Martin's meadow (the most easterly one), but it does seem to be slowly spreading which is certainly good news for the bees who seem to absolutely love it.

No comments:

Post a Comment