Maclura tinctoria is a large tree or shrub found across most of the Neotropics from Mexico to Argentina. It has a very widespread distribution, and is known to be. No one has contributed a brief summary to this page yet. Explore what EOL knows about Maclura tinctoria (L.) D. Don ex Steud.. Add a brief summary to this. Descriptions and articles about the Fustic Tree, scientifically known as Maclura tinctoria (L.) D. Don ex Steud. in the Encyclopedia of Life. Includes Physic.
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It has a curious history. First, old fustic is a plant from the Americas, discovered after in the forests of tropical America. Shortly after Columbus’ voyages, European explorers in the Americas discovered the wood of old fustic trees made a good yellow dye. It seems a little weird that with 1,s of trees in the American tropics explorers would know or care about old fustic. However, logwood and brazilwood were making the fortunes of sailors, since they produce highly-sought purple-gray and red dyes respectively, so there was probably a lot of dye-wood prospecting in the early s.
Its wood make a stable yellow dye. The logic of this is less clear to me. The word “fustic” apparently comes from the Arabic word for bush.
Nevertheless it was widely used, I suppose because it was a readily available shrub or because it produced shades difficult to get from other dyes. So the new plant could have picked up the fustic name because it was a dye from wood not leaves.
Those included dyers greenweed Genista tinctoriayoung fustic, dyer’s buckthorn Rhamnus saxatilisflax-leafed daphne Daphne gnidiumsawwort Serratula tinctoria and weld Reseda luteola.
Most yellows from plants fade when exposed to ultraviolet light and so, sunlight. But I think price and abundance were also important. Weld was a crop. The seeds were sown, the plants cultivated and the leaves harvested before it flowered.
In the s you could pull your ship up next to an old fustic tree on a flooded Amazon river bank and chop it down. The wood could be stacked in the hold and and forgotten tintoria you reached Europe. Ship transportation was cheapest form of transport at the time. The wood makes a fine dye, fresh tinctoriz dry. And the quantities seemed limitless. Whatever their reasons, the dyers snapped it up. Aboutthe annual imports to the United States were more than 4, tons.
During the First World War, old fustic imports to the U. By that time, army uniforms were no longer red and blue, but increasingly buff and khaki. First it was decided it was too different from edible mulberries to be in that genus, so it became Chlorophora tinctoria.
A more recent reevaluation has put it in the same genus as the North American tree Osage tinftoria, Maclura pomifera. All share the important dye morin 3,5,7,2′,4′,5,7-pentahydroxyflavone. Unlike most of the natural dyes, old fustic continues to be a commercial dye.
Maclura tinctoria (L.) ex Steud., – Overview
It is also used in quantity in the tanning industries, as part of blends to produce particular shades of leather. So, tinctorai is still being sold commercially on a large scale today.
Consequently it is in danger of being seriously over-exploited. It was quite common, across Central and northern South America, but its preferred habitat made it easy to harvest.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Apparently the seeds are often infertile, which has retarded raising it in plantations. Different sources I checked, none of them satisfyingly detailed, described it as endangered, exported in large quantities and raised sustainably.
Probably all are true somewhere, but developing sustainable production seems essential. On a Smithsonian tour, we took small boats through areas in the upper Amazon where river levels rise 20 feet in the rainy season. It was slightly before the peak of the water levels so the trees were more than half submerged.
We took little boats into otherwise inaccessible areas. The guides pointed out noteworthy plants when no colorful bird was in sight. They gave one tree’s English name as the toothache tree and described the use of the sap to relieve a toothache. Then they added it was Maclura tinctoria. I reacted with geeky delight. Not very often I stumble on a historically important plant by accident.
In its native habitat! The delimitation and subdivision of the genus Maclura Moraceae. Archetype Publications, New York.
Revision of Chlorophora Moraceae in America. UV-VIS spectroscopic study of maclurw dyes with alum as a mordant. My blog on dyeing with plants: Dye plants–yellows from many sources Kathy Keeler awanderingbotanist.
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