Along County Road 87 near Adin CA (Modoc County) fields infested with dyer’s woad (Isatis tinctoria) that earlier in the season were a riot of yellow now are a dark brown, looking almost as though a wildfire has passed through.
Brownish-purple nodding seed pods, each containing a single seed, have replaced the bright yellow flowers. Each dyer’s woad plant can produce 300 to 500 seeds, often more.
An Internet search for dyer’s woad is interesting – interspersed between websites selling dyer’s woad seeds and plants to gardeners and fiber artists who use natural dyes are sites listing the same plant as a noxious weed and providing advice on how to prevent the spread of and eradicate dyer’s woad. Unfortunately once dyer’s woad becomes established it is difficult to eliminate.
I have mixed emotions about dyer’s woad. Leonard and I are constantly working to prevent dyer’s woad from invading our “clean” pastures and fields, yet at the same time I enjoy seeing the yellow flowers along roadsides and blanketing fields in the spring. In their own way dyer’s woad plants covered in purplish seedpods (and the fields they infest) also have their own beauty.
See “Dyer’s Woad” 12-11-13 for pictures of dyer’s woad in bloom and more information about the plant.