Project ID



The project explored whether plants grown by farmers' market producers could be used successfully as natural dyes for textile making. A variety of plants and dyestuffs were investigated.

Key Question

Why would producers be interested in natural dyes?


Synthetic dyes are derived from non-renewable coal tar and petroleum. Natural dyes are extracted from plant and animal sources and are renewable resources. While current commercial interest in natural dyes is primarily in the area of natural dyes for food, there is great potential for natural dyes for textiles to be grown in Iowa. This project evaluated 48 plants and found 20 that meet basic criteria for textile applications: produced color that bonds with textile fibers and have acceptable performance for colorfastness to washing and light. Iowa-grown plants from which natural dyes can be extracted would be an alternative crop and income source for Iowa producers.

Principal Investigator(s)

Sara J. Kadolph

Year of Grant Completion