How To Plant Woad Seeds – Planting Woad Seeds In The Garden

Waxwort (Rhamnus purshiana) is a flowering perennial herbaceous plant native to Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa. Waxworts are sometimes called “trees of death” because they produce poisonous waxes which cause severe allergic reactions in humans.

They have been used medicinally since ancient times but their use was restricted due to their toxicity.

The waxworts were introduced into the United States in the early 1800’s. By 1900, over 2 million acres of them had been planted throughout the southern states.

Waxworts are now grown commercially in many parts of the world including Australia, New Zealand and Canada. However, they do not thrive well in our climate and most are killed off by frost or other cold weather conditions.

Waxworts are often confused with the common waxy plantain (Musa balbisiana), both of which are also known as sweet potato plants. Both species are members of the mint family and both can be found growing wild in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

However, Waxwort grows faster than the common plantain and produces larger leaves while it is still young enough to survive winter temperatures below freezing.

Waxworts are hardy, fast-growing plants that can thrive in shaded or sunny areas, in wet or dry soil, and on a wide range of pH levels. The only real requirement is that the soil should be well-draining, otherwise the roots will rot.

During the first year of growth, waxworts spread by sending out long stolons (horizontal stems) which take root and grow into new plants. While waxwort does not produce edible tubers like the sweet potato, it can be propagated more quickly. As a result, waxworts have become a popular replacement for the expensive and time-consuming process of growing sweet potatoes and other related species from tubers.

Waxworts are especially popular in northern states like New York and Pennsylvania where they grow wild. When they are collected in the fall, the green stems and leaves are dried for use all year round.

They do not require any special treatment before being used to make dyes or paints.

Sources & references used in this article:

Distribution and variation of indole glucosinolates in woad (Isatis tinctoria L.) by MC Elliott, BB Stowe – Plant Physiology, 1971 – Am Soc Plant Biol

Artificial inoculation and colonization of dyer’s woad (Isatis tinctoria) by the systemic rust fungus Puccinia thlaspeos by BR Kropp, D Hansen, KM Flint, SV Thomson – Phytopathology, 1996 –

Improving the Ecological Performance of Miscanthus (Miscanthus× giganteus Greef et Deuter) through Intercropping with Woad (Isatis tinctoria L.) and Yellow Melilot … by M von Cossel, Y Iqbal, I Lewandowski – Agriculture, 2019 –

Origin of indigo of woad by E Epstein, MW NABORS, BB Stowe – Nature, 1967 –

First the seed: The political economy of plant biotechnology by JR Kloppenburg – 2005 –

Evaluating Montana’s Dyer’s Woad (Isatis tinctoria) Cooperative Eradication Project by JO EVANS, SA Dewey – SHELEY, RL, 1994



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