Permaculture and mosquitoes

Bareis, Santa Cruz ibabambu at
Thu Jan 8 20:40:35 EST 1998

South east Asia the cultivation of indigo has long been used as an effective mosquito repellant.
The natural dye from indigo ha been used pan-tropically for at least the last 1,500 years. From ancient Mayan ikat
weaving to hill country of the sino-Himalayan "Bai culture.  Interestingly the forms of indigo are as varied as the
cultures that produced them.

The chemistry of the dyer itself seems to be the key to it's effective anti-mosquito qualities.. the dye created by
soaking dried leaves in warm water creates a strong astringent  and low PH.  Indigo is unique in that it does not need
any fixer (mordant), to set the blue color.

Another point of  potential interest to permaculture community is the fact that some brilliant blue dyes are created by
leaves of the pea family.  These unique plants are legumes of the little known forest margins... Indigofera decora from
Southwest China, Lezpedeza argirea from Taiwan and Japan, and of course the Polygonum tinctorum from india and East

Several agroforestry programs have adapted indigofera intercropped with Camellia sinensis or Paulownia,  the usefull
leaves are also an excellent fodder source...a problem if like most of us you have a resident deer population.


Karl F. Bareis- international coordinator
International Bamboo Association (IBA)
Santa Cruz, California, USA
<ibabambu at>


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