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Alphabe Thursday L is for Logwood

February 6, 2014

Haematoxylum_campechianum_Ypey69

Logwood otherwise known as Haematoxylum (means bloodwood from the Greek Haima for blood and xylon for wood) is a species of flowering tree in the legume family.  It is native to Mexico and Central America; where it has been and remains to a lesser extent of great economic importance.  The country Belize grew from 17th century English logwood logging camps and many Belizians are descended from the slaves who were forced to fell the heavy trees.

Logwood has been used for centuries as a natural source of dye; it was considered a versatile dye on fabrics and paper. The bark and leaves are also widely used in various medical applications.

The Spaniards brought the logwood from the New World to Europe.  It was a  good source of red and black dye; not well used in England until 1575. However it was not before long; it was banned. Parliament suggested that the ‘colours that were roduced from from it were of a fugacious character’; pretending to be looking after the interests of the users.  In truth they were concerned only that Spaniards were making a huge profit. So after the law, banning of logwood dying in 1581; so the battle of the Armada happened in 1588.

Much later in 1673 the laws were repealed, saying now the dyers of England had discovered ways to fix the colours made from logwood. But Victoria Finlay in Colour thinks that maybe this change of heart might have something to do with with the fact that the British had now had access to natural logwood plantations in Belize in Central America and needed a home market for their new resource.  Meanwhile, in 1667  England and Spain had signed a peace treaty; with the Spanish granting trading rights in return for the British suppressing piracy.  So while there Caribbean was a safer place there were a lot of redundant pirates who joined the band of merchants collecting and delivering logwood; with its new fashionable black dye.  

Further Reading Colour by Victoria Finlay

alphabet thursday

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2014 1:47 pm

    Hmmm, I find it interesting to learn how dyes are derived from plants. Thanks for the education on Logwood!

  2. February 6, 2014 4:04 pm

    Very informative post for L and love the photo of loxwood ~ artmusedog ^_^
    http://www.acreativeharbor.com

  3. Karen S. permalink
    February 6, 2014 10:02 pm

    Wonderful, I like learning about things and their back story!

  4. February 6, 2014 11:21 pm

    Interesting post and lovely illustration…

  5. February 7, 2014 1:09 am

    Never heard of it until now, thanks. I love coming and learning a lesson each week.

  6. storybeader permalink
    February 7, 2014 5:18 am

    I can’t imagine how it would have been like to carry the trees over the ocean. Guess it was a seedling… So very interesting! {:-D

    • February 7, 2014 7:02 am

      mmm another it of research … not sure where the processing was done. Probably by slaves again …. and I fear not a pleasant task … and then there was the waste product?

  7. February 22, 2014 1:35 am

    Who new there was a law making logwood illegal?!?

    I say let all colors loose to lighten up our lives.

    Thanks for linking to the letter “L”.

    A+

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