Gromwell root

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Gromwell root (Lithospermum erythrorhizon)


A natural dye extract from the roots of the perennial Lithospermum plants, most common of which are L. erythrorhizon (Japan and China) and L. officinale (North America). The red-purple root of the Gromwell plant is extracted with water to produce a non-lightfast purple colorant composed primarily of the nathaquinone compound shikonin. Called waka or usu in Japan, this purple color was restricted to the Imperial family.

See also puccoon.

Synonyms and Related Terms

murasaki (Jap.); shikonin; waka; usu; redroot; bloodroot ; Lithospermum erythrorhizon; Lithospermum officinale (stoneseed)

Lithospermum spp.

Hazards and Safety

Poor lightfastness

Additional Images


  • Encyclopedia Britannica, Comment: "Boraginaceae." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2004. Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. 30 Sept. 2004 .

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