This post is being updated.

The Americas: 

  • Native American Ethnobotany database: http://herb.umd.umich.edu/
  • Pojar, Jim and Mackinnon, Andy. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska. Vancouver: Lone Pine Publishing, 1994.
  • Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn. kapok. , also known as ‘barriguda’ ? in South America as well as many other plants go under the same name? also Ceiba speciosa (cotton silk tree) – in the same family Malvaceae.
  • Use of palms in SA. 


  • Tropical Africa plants: http://database.prota.org/
  • Bark of Ficus glumosa Delile is used in central, eastern and southern Africa for tanning hides. In Kaokoland in Namibia it is said to be the most important tanning agent for leather, giving it a red colour favoured by the Himba people. The bark is also a source of a brick-red dye, popular in Mali (‘bogolan’ dyeing process), Sierra Leone (Koranko people) and Ghana for dyeing cloth and raffia. In some areas, e.g. Sudan, cloth is made from the bark.
  • Tukula powder – red powder that is finely ground from parts of the Camwood tree (Baphia nitida/African sandalwood) or from Pterocarpus soyauxii Taub. The heartwood is the source of the so-called true barwood dye. In Africa the dye is still used to colour red fabrics, fibres and clothes, including the tail-like ornaments made from raffia fibre in Cameroon and worn on the back by women of the Bulu people. In DR Congo, in the former kingdom of Kuba, at the confluence of the rivers Kasai and Sankuru, the dyes of the famous ‘Kasai velvets’ include Pterocarpus soyauxiireds with a more violet shade, obtained by combining the red dye with tannin-rich plants and a mordant of iron-rich mud. A pomade is made by mixing the red wood powder with oil and its use as a body cosmetic is widely applied in DR Congo (‘ngula’). The roots can be prepared and used in the same way as the heartwood and yield a dye of equal or better quality. Pulverized bark, mixed with palm oil, is also used as a cosmetic pomade.
  • Judith A. Carney and Richard Nicholas Rosomoff. In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World. Berkeley: U of California P, 2009. 296 pp.
  • Stanley B. Alpern 2008. Exotic Plants of Western Africa: Where They Came from and When, History of Africa, Vol. 35, (2008) (pp. 63-102).
  • Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn. kapok. 


  • Alpine daisy, Celmisia (Maori tikumu):
  • Bark cloth: 
  • Inner bark from the lacebark tree (Lagetta Lagetto)



Brennan, E., and M. Nesbitt. 2010-11. Is Jamaican lace-bark (Lagetta lagetto) a sustainable material? Text: for the Study of Textile Art, Design and History 38:17-23.