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The herbs

INDIGO PLANT

Indigo plant
Indigofera tinctoria is best known as indigo The plant was one of the original sources of the indigo dye; it naturalized to tropical and temperate Asia, as well as many parts of Africa, but its native habitat is unknown since it has been worldwide cultivated for many centuries. The plant is also widely grown as a soil-improving groundcover.

True indigo is a shrub one to two metres high that can be annual, biennial, or perennial, depending on the climate in which it is growing. It has light green pinnate leaves and sheaves of pink or violet flowers. You can see leaflets in 4 to 6 opposite pairs or on odd numbers, with a very short stalk, each with a minute stipella at the base, oval-or obovate-oblong, glabrous and bluish green above, silky with white adpressed hairs and paler beneath. The plant is a legume, so it is rotated into fields to improve the soil fertility in the same way that other legume crops such as alfalfa and beans do.

Roots, stems and leaves help the growth of hair and are used to cure gastropathy, splenomegaly, cephalagia, cardiopathy, chronic bronchitis, asthma, ulcers as well as skin diseases. The juice extracted from the leaves is useful in the treatment of hydrophobia; the leaves can also be used as an anti-toxic.

Dye-stuff is obtained from processing the plant's leaves. They are soaked in water and then let fermented in order to convert the glycoside indican naturally present in the plant to the blue dye indigotin. The precipitate from the fermented leaf solution is mixed with various other plants to produce different shades of blue and purple.

Indigo dye-stuff is used to dye all kind of yarns and fabrics; the Indigo leaves are used to make hair dye as well as to prepare medicated oil for hair.

Tintoria di Quaregna’s Indigofera dyes are obtained in a completely natural manner, following an ancient technique.
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