Most fungal dyes are relatively consistent in their results, but one genus' color is nothing short of elusive: Ramaria spp. Many characteristics of the coral mushrooms paint them as nature's tricksters: they are notoriously challenging to identify because they can shift color over the course of their maturation, and their manifold branching can leave more… Continue reading Colorful Coral Mushrooms
An abundant mushroom, the Western Jack O'Lantern (Omphalotus olivascens) and its cousins are often mistaken by amateur mycologists for the much more edible and desirable chanterelle. In addition to delivering a nasty stomach ache to the unwary, some report that Omphalotus harbors a delightful surprise ability to glow in the dark. Much like the trickster symbol… Continue reading Get an (Ompha)lotus that purple!
It's one thing to see a surprising dye color emerge straight from its plant/fungal source such as the pink hiding inside avocados, but it's another entirely to observe a pale, barely-there color turn vivid with the addition of another solute. A little bit of chemistry and patience can take a small dye palette and expand… Continue reading A Chemistry Lesson
A great introduction to natural dyeing, the Dyer's Polypore (Phaeolus schweinitzii) is a forgiving and plentiful dyestuff. A single specimen is usually more than enough to dye 200g of wool (not including multiple rounds of dye bath exhaustion), and the pigment sticks readily to wool fibers without a mordant. It is simple enough to identify, and… Continue reading Phabulous Phaeolus Fungi
The natural world is abundant in color. It doesn't take long to discover that so many of the organisms we see every day can impart pigment across the whole spectrum. In fact, it may become challenging to go outside, just for the sheer distraction of fennel here, sourgrass there, oak galls left and right! Evernia prunastri… Continue reading Gathering Dyestuffs