Woad thumbnail Woad - Isatis tinctura:


This plant may grow to around three feet, and has elongated leaves. It flowers late spring or early summer with compact and small yellow buds.

Growing Info:

The plant is native to northern European countries, and is a biannual. It grows readily, and self-seeds eagerly.

Culinary Uses:

No culinary uses.

Medicinal Uses in Folklore:

I am not aware of any.

Scanning the Scientific Literature:

No results found in a search.

Other Info:

The yellow flowers of woad may be gathered and made into a dye which is blue in color, a hue not dissimilar to indigo. Due to various factors, indigo supplanted woad as a dying agent of choice even in areas where woad is a native. A large quantity of woad flowers are required to make a small amount of dye.

The ancient Picts of Scotland were reported by the Roman chroniclers as having gone into battle naked except for designs created from woad dye which were painted over their bodies. It was thought that they so attired themselves so as to terrify their enemies.


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Last Updated: March 7, 1999.