Chrozophora tinctoria

(Redirected from Crozophora tinctoria)

Chrozophora tinctoria (commonly known as dyer's croton,[2] giradol,[2] turnsole[2] or dyer's litmus plant[3]) is a plant species native to the Mediterranean, the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and Central Asia.[1][4][5][6] It is also present as a weed in North America and Australia.[7]

Dyer's croton
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Chrozophora
C. tinctoria
Binomial name
Chrozophora tinctoria
  • Croton tinctorius L.
  • Ricinoides tinctoria (L.) Moench
  • Tournesol tinctoria (L.) Baill.
  • Croton argenteus Forssk. 1775 not L. 1753
  • Croton obliquus Vahl
  • Croton verbascifolius Willd.
  • Croton patulus Lag.
  • Chrozophora hierosolymitana Spreng.
  • Chrozophora obliqua (Vahl) A.Juss. ex Spreng.
  • Chrozophora verbascifolia (Willd.) A.Juss. ex Spreng.
  • Croton oblongifolius Sieber ex Spreng.
  • Chrozophora villosa Lindl.
  • Chrozophora sieberi C.Presl
  • Chrozophora integrifolia Bunge
  • Tournesol warionii (Coss. ex Batt. & Trab.) Baill.
  • Tournesol obliqua (Vahl) Franch.
  • Chrozophora warionii Coss. ex Batt.
  • Tournesol verbascifolia (Willd.) Kuntze
  • Chrozophora glabrata (Heldr.) Pax & K.Hoffm.
  • Chrozophora subplicata (Müll.Arg.) Pax & K.Hoffm.
  • Chrozophora cordifolia Pazij
  • Chrozophora lepidocarpa Pazij


It is an annual, typically found in nutrient-poor ground. It develops a large taproot.[7] The plant is erect and covered with wool-like hairs.[8] The ash-green leaves are alternate. The tiny monecious flowers are grouped in a raceme. The lower, female flowers lack petals and the upper male flowers have five small yellow petals. Pollination is by ants.[7] The fruits are conspicuous and consist of three dark green conjoined spheres. Their surface is decorated with white scales and warty structures. Each sphere contains three seeds, which are propelled away from the plant by the mechanical force of the mature fruit twisting as it opens.[7]

Use for dyeEdit

Chrozophora tinctoria produced the blue-purple colorant "turnsole" (also known as katasol[9] or folium[8] ) used in medieval illuminated manuscripts and as a food colorant in Dutch cheese and certain liquors.[10] Its use was mostly as substitute of the more expensive Tyrian purple, the famous dye obtained from Murex molluscs.[11] The color comes from the plant's fruit, specifically its dry outer coat.[9] The colorant is also obtained from the translucent sap contained in the plant cells when the leaves of the plant are broken off and exposed to the air.[12] Different shades of blue and purple may also be obtained when the juice extracts are exposed to the vapors emitted from ammonia (NH3), and which in France, during the late 19th century, was produced by applying fresh horse manure and urine to the fabric that was soaked with the plant extract.[12] The plant has historically been used throughout the Levant to dye clothing.[12] 100 kilograms (220 lb) of the plant produces 50 kilograms (110 lb) of sap, and with this quantity one is able to dye 25 kilograms (55 lb) of fabric rolls.[12]

In 2020, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from FCT NOVA, University of Porto and University of Aveiro, identified the complex chemical structure of the medieval purple-blue dye extracted from the fruits of Chrozophora tinctoria.[8] The chemical structure of the medieval dye was a mystery until now.[8] The extracts obtained showed a novel blue chemical, chrozophoridine as the main chromophore.[8][13]


  1. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ a b c "Chrozophora tinctoria". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  3. ^ Shmida, Avi (2005). MAPA's Dictionary of Plants and Flowers in Israel (in Hebrew). Tel-Aviv: MAPA Publishers. p. 250. OCLC 716569354., s.v. Chrozophora tinctoria
  4. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana, Tornasole comune, Turn Sole, tournesol, tornasol, Lackmuskraut, Chrozophora tinctoria (L.) A. Juss.
  5. ^ Zervous, S., Raus, T. & Yannitsaros, A. (2009). Additions to the flora of the island of Kalimnos (SE Aegean, Greece). Willdenowia 39: 165-177.
  6. ^ Dobignard, A. & Chatelain, C. (2011). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 3: 1-449. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
  7. ^ a b c d Mifsud, Stephen. "Chrozophora tinctoria (Dyer's Litmus)". Wild Plants of Malta. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d e Nabais, P.; Oliveira, J.; Pina, F.; Teixeira, N.; de Freitas, V.; Brás, N. F.; Clemente, A.; Rangel, M.; Silva, A. M. S.; Melo, M. J. (April 2020). "A 1000-year-old mystery solved: Unlocking the molecular structure for the medieval blue from Chrozophora tinctoria , also known as folium". Science Advances. 6 (16): eaaz7772. Bibcode:2020SciA....6.7772N. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aaz7772. ISSN 2375-2548. PMC 7164948. PMID 32426456.
  9. ^ a b Melo, Maria J.; Castro, Rita; Nabais, Paula; Vitorino, Tatiana (2018). "The book on how to make all the colour paints for illuminating books: unravelling a Portuguese Hebrew illuminators' manual". Heritage Science. 6: 44. doi:10.1186/s40494-018-0208-z.
  10. ^ Chrozophora, Folium cloth
  11. ^ M. Aceto, E. Calà, A. Agostino, G. Fenoglio, A. Idone, C. Porte, M. Gulmini, On the identification of folium and orchil on illuminated manuscripts, Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy,
  12. ^ a b c d Ḳrispil, Nissim (1985). A Bag of Plants (The Useful Plants of Israel) (in Hebrew). Vol. 3 (Ṭ.-M.). Jerusalem: Cana Publishing House Ltd. pp. 627–629, 632–633. ISBN 965-264-011-5. OCLC 959573975., s.v. Chrozophora tinctoria
  13. ^ "1000-Year-Old Mistery Unfolded With The Discovery Of Medieval Blue Dye Structure". Universidade Nova de Lisboa. 20 April 2020. Retrieved 22 April 2020.