Natural Dye Plants At Singapore Zoo

The Singapore Zoo, which houses more than 2,500 animals from 315 species in a large rainforest environment, has many features and attractions that fascinate adults and children alike.

Just the other day, the Lee family visited the Singapore Zoo and we stopped at the Herb Garden for a break. There and then, I noticed there were several plants which are often used in natural dyeing.

The Pomegranate Tree

First, there is the pomegranate tree which is an aromatic dye that yields an especially nice green-yellow color. It grows wild in India, Italy, North Africa and China.  Surprisingly, the pomegranate produces a yellowish dye colour, and not red.  The age of the fruit affects the color of the dye: the less ripe the fruit, the greener the yellow.  Pomegranate has a high tannin content which when combined with iron gives a yummy deep moss green. See how to dye with pomegranate.

The Mangosteen Tree

Next, there is the mangosteen, which is typically grown in southeast Asia and other tropical climates. The skin of mangosteen is regarded as a potential for textile dye because it contains tannin, which is widely known as one of chemical base for dyes. See how to dye with mangosteen.

The Butterfly Pea

Then, we saw the Clitoria Ternatea, otherwise known as Butterfly Pea. This perennial herbaceous plant is native to tropical equatorial Asia. The most striking feature about this plant are its vivid deep blue flowers.In Southeast Asia the flowers are used to colour food. In Malay cooking, an aqueous extract is used to colour glutinous rice for kuih ketan (also known as pulut tai tai in Peranakan/Nyonya cooking) and in nonya chang. In Thailand, a syrupy blue drink is made called nam dok anchan. In Burma the flowers are used as food, often they are dipped in batter and fried.

The Neem Tree

Besides these plants which can be used in dyeing, the Herb Garden also has useful plants, for example, the Neem trees. This useful plant is a fast-growing tree that can reach a height of 15-20 m, rarely to 35-40 m. Products made from Neem have medicinal properties of anti-fungal, anti-diabetic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-infertility. It is particularly prescribed for skin disease.

The Cotton Plant

Finally we saw the cotton plant. The cotton plant is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, Africa, and India. The cotton textile, made from yarn or thread spun from the plant fibre is widely used. It is estimated that world production of cotton is about 25 million tonnes annually, accounting for 2.5% of the world’s arable land.


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