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From Edwin Haviland Miller's Salem Is My Dwelling Place, University of Iowa Press, 1991, pp. 35-36.

The Story of Woodwax
Jeanne Stella, Wildflower consultant for the Friends of Salem Woods

Woodwax is a common name for Dyer's Greenweed (Latin name, Genista tinctoria). Gov. John Endicott brought Dyer's Greenweed to our country in 1628, requested by the colonists as a necessary dye plant. They used it to dye both flax and wool yellow. Gov. Endicott brought the plant as packing material for his household items. Upon arrival, when unpacking his belongings, he threw the plant out upon the soil where it rooted, grew, and soon spread across Essex County, becoming a pest plant that no one seemed to know how to get rid of. Its yellow blooms could be seen far and wide. Now, it occupies a very respectable place in the Salem Woods. It is not an invasive weed at this point. It must have been curtailed by civilization, with accompanying construction of buildings (cement does have a way of confronting wildlife!). Some people still use "Dyer's Greenweed" to dye cloth yellow. More on this plant can be found on the Internet or by visiting the Salem Public Library and researching in the Salem Room in the old horticulture books--especially the one written by Robinson.

Courtesy of the author, Jeanne Stella

Friends of Salem Woods/Forest River Conservation Area:


Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/11910/


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