Natural dyes from Gulmohar flowers

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Gulmohar dyes to colour cotton There's more to the gulmohar tree than what the paperbacks or college annuals say. Scientists at the regional research laboratory in Bhubaneshwar have produced several natural dyes from different parts of gulmohar flower by combining them with other substances.

When mixed with turmeric powder, the extract of the flower produced golden yellow colour. It also produced olive green colour in the presence of alum. The extract from the petals gives a dark tan in the presence of turmeric powder. Various parts of the flower (like the green calyx at the base of the flower) give varying shades of brown.

A paper published in Current Science (Vol 92, No 12), says flowers of gulmohar (Delonix regia) contain flavonoids like leucoanthocyanin, and carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. These chemicals give colour to the flower. Researchers say the dyes can be used to colour cotton and silk. "This research was directed towards value addition of waste gulmohar flowers which grow in warm and damp parts of India. The manufacturing process of the dyes does not harm environment and is economically beneficial to weavers," says S Sahoo, lead author of the paper.

Each year, India produces 64,000 tonnes of synthetic dyes, 7,040 tonnes of which are directly discharged into the environment--enough to dye the river Sabarmati. Interest in the use of natural dyes has been growing, triggered by stringent environmental standards imposed by many countries due to the toxic and allergic reactions caused with synthetic dyes exported from India.

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