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Comparing Indigo leaf content between Isatis indigotica and Isatis tinctoria
  • Comparing Indigo leaf content between Isatis indigotica and Isatis tinctoria
  • Young plants of Isatis indigotica and Isatis tinctoria

Isatis indigotica - Chinese Woad - Seeds

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Isatis indigotica - Chinese Woad
1 packet of 15 siliques

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Isatis indigotica, the Chinese Woad, is a cousin of the Woad - Isatis tinctoria

The two species are very similar, to the point that Isatis indigotica is often considered as a variety or a subspecies of Isatis tinctoria
It has been assumed that Isatis indigotica, geographically isolated (east of the Eurasian continent) from the populations established west of the Urals, had derived genetically and were in the process of speciation

There are indeed remarkable differences in phenology and biochemistry between Isatis indigotica and Isatis tinctoria

The leaf of Isatis indigotica is fleshier, wider, thicker, more brittle, and more blueish than that of Isatis tinctoria, and the plant is smaller, with smaller inflorescences

The content of Indigotin Precursors is higher in Chinese Woad, which makes it a first choice for eco-printing techniques
However, the quantity of biomass produced being less, balances this difference

Finally, Isatis indigotica is significantly less hardy and less robust than Isatis tinctoria, must be sheltered from frost, and often grows on an annual cycle (summer flowering on spring sowing), which Isatis tinctoria never does

In China, Isatis indigotica enjoys a strong reputation in traditional medicine

Please consult the file on Isatis tinctoria for additional information



Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Sow Isatis indigotica seeds in spring, in a nursery, protected from frost

When the seedlings can be handled and after the last frosts, transplant them into the ground, in deep, well-loosened soil, enriched with manure compost, exposed to full sun

Water regularly in summer to encourage the development of strong vegetation

Cultivate Chinese Woad like Woad, but provide more water, heat, and fertility

Harvest the leaves in July - preferably - for a better Indigo yield


Use as Dye

Several methods exist for making blue dye

To find out more, please read L'Indigo de A à Z

Learn how to use this Indigo plant with our Courses:

Internship Indigo Dye on Wool and Colorimetry

Internship Master Class Compound Colors and Colorimetry


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