Rubia Cordifolia / Manjistha

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Rubia cordifolia, often known as common madder or Indian madder, is a species of flowering plant in the coffee family, Rubiaceae. It has been cultivated for a red pigment derived from roots. Common names of this plant include manjistha in Sanskrit, Marathi, Kannada and Bengali, majith in Hindi and Gujarati, in Tibetan, tamaralli in Telugu, manditti in Tamil.

It can grow to 1.5 m in height with evergreen leaves and pale yellow flower which appear in dense racemes from June to August. Followed by small red to black berries. It prefers loamy soils with a constant level of moisture.

Rubia cordifolia was an economically important source of a red pigment in many regions of Asia, Europe and Africa. It was extensively cultivated from antiquity until the mid nineteenth century. The plant’s roots contain an anthraquinone called purpurin that gives its red colour as a textile dye It was also used as a colourant, especially for paint, that is referred to as Madder lake.

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