Thanks for your question on Buckthorn dyes. As you may know,
buckthorn dyes have been most extensively used in Russia and have been
around for centuries. They are native to Europe and western Asia, and
have been mentioned in medieval texts. The anthraquinone derivatives
present in the plant are responsible for both its laxative effects and
Here is a source that sells Buckthorn dye that originates in Poland:
The dye is located about half-way down the page. Price is $2 for 2 oz.
BUCKTHORN BARK (Rhamnus spp.): Bark chips used in the Middle East as a
dye source since 900 BC and known to medieval dyers as Alder
Buckthorn. Gives rich golden- to red-browns, black on wool with iron
mordant. Good on wool & silk, fair on other fibers. Very light- &
If you'd like the berries from which you can make the dye yourself,
you could look at this German company's website (Kremer Pigments):
Their buckthorn dye products can be found on this page:
Below are the catalog entries, with catalog numbers. The first two
are berries to be used for making pigments or dyes yourself. The
third listing is a pigment made from the berries.
37380 Ripe buckthorn berries, ripe, Rhamni maturi, also French or Persian berries
37390 Green buckthorn berries, Rhamni immaturi
Unripe buckthorn berries yield a beautiful yellow: Chop the berries
(you can use a coffee mill) and boil in water with some alum for about
one hour. Pour through a sieve and brush on. (Recipe from 1899)
37392 Stil de grain,
Dutch pink, yellow lake pigment made from buckthorn berries.
As I said above, the dye has been used since medieval times. A group
called Common Weavers has an excellent resource for working with
medieval dyes, which includes recipes for making them. The document
can be found here:
Buckthorn dye is discussed on page 9.
You can see photos of the plant here:
Here is the National Park Service site for the plant:
The plant has a listing at the University of British Columbia Dept. of
Botany database here:
A description of it's possible medicinal uses, from 1870, can be read here:
A more current discussion of the possible medicinal properties of the
plant can be found here:
You can even purchase buckthorn shampoo!
More information, including some details on the chemical components
responsible for the plants various characteristics, can be found,
along with a good bibliography on the plant, at this site:
I hope this information was useful. Happy dyeing!