Willow bark

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English Whithorn
MFA# 17.1897


Bark from willow trees (Salix) found throughout the world. The bark and watery sap from willow trees has been used for medicinal purposes by the Greeks since the 5th century since extracts produce salicylic acid, the presursor of aspirin. Additionally the flexible shoots and bark were used for weaving and musical instruments. Extracts of the bark produce a pale brown to rose-tan color on wool using an alum mordant. Willow bark dye has good washfastness and fair lightfastness. Willow bark also contains a natural catechol tanning agent used to prepared leather.

Silk dyed with pussy willow flowers, Uemera Dye Archive

Resources and Citations

  • R.J. Adrosko, Natural Dyes in the United States, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, 1968
  • John and Margaret Cannon, Dye Plants and Dyeing, Herbert Press, London, 1994