Textile and Apparel Science

Seasonal Dyeing- Color Extraction From the Leaves and Catkins of Cottonwood Trees

  • Jennifer Harmon (University of Wyoming)


Recently, renewed interest in natural dyes for cellulosic fibers has been observed, likely explained by health and environmental concerns related to synthetic dyes (Haar et. al., 2013). Textile dyeing with synthetic dyes can be considered the most polluting industrial process (Geelani et. al., 2017). The variability of plant based dyes means exceptional skill is required to achieve the desired hue and intensity (Ziarani et. al., 2018; Saikhao et. al., 2018). For most natural dyes, a mordant is required to properly adhere. Color and colorfastness are related to the dyestuff, mordant and concentrations (Arroyo‐Figueroa, 2011). This research explored the dyeing potential of the Plains and Lanceleaf Cottonwood’s fall leaves and spring catkins. Mordants were tannic acid (TA), alum acetate (AA) or both (TAA). Dye was extracted from fall leaves and spring catkins by gathering raw materials and covering with distilled water. These mixtures boiled and temperatures were lowered to 90 C for 60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Mixtures were cooled and strained. Fabric was wetted out for 30 minutes before dyeing. Ratio for the leaf dye solution was 15:1 and 20:1 for catkin dye. Samples of each mordant type were dyed without modifiers, with an acid modifier and with an alkali modifier. Original pH of the leaf extracted dye was 5, modified to 3 with acid and 10 with alkali. pH of the catkin extracted dye was 7, modified to 1 and 10. These results indicate that seasonal leaves and catkins from cottonwood trees can display fairly good to excellent colorfastness to crocking and light exposure. Future investigations could assess ideal extraction methods and concentrations for cottonwood dyeing.

Keywords: Natural Dyes, Cottonwood Trees, Sustainability, Colorfastness

How to Cite:

Harmon, J., (2022) “Seasonal Dyeing- Color Extraction From the Leaves and Catkins of Cottonwood Trees”, International Textile and Apparel Association Annual Conference Proceedings 78(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/itaa.13835



Published on
23 Sep 2022
Peer Reviewed