Berberis dye

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A yellow dye primarily obtained from the stems and roots of the Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) bush. Berberis contains the colorants berberine (berberine bisulfate, Berberine sulfate, berberine hydrochloride), berbamine, and oxyacanthine along with some soluble tannins. The yellow color is substantive on Wool, Leather, and Silk. It has also been used as a yellow lake pigment for coloring prints (Harley 1982). Other sources of berberines include goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) plants and bark from the amur cork tree (Phellodendron amurense).

Japanese barberryBerberis thunbergii

For analysis examples, see:

Synonyms and Related Terms

Berberis vulgaris (common barberry); Hydrastis canadensis (goldenseal); Phellodendron amurense (amur cork tree); agracejo (Esp.); crespino (It.); berberines; berberis bush




  • Toxic by ingestion, inhalation and skin absorption.
  • Color has poor lightfastness.

Resources and Citations

  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • R.D. Harley, Artists' Pigments c. 1600-1835, Butterworth Scientific, London, 1982
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 1192

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