I went to collect some mistletoe – Amyema? – from river red gum (Eucalptus camaldulensis) nearby; I’ve been watching it carefully over the past few months, and the sight of a lorry parked on the last remaining patch of undeveloped land had me heading off with secateurs and collecting bag.
After pruning a few shoots, I noticed there were plenty of dead leaves on the ground, dark brown and crisp. They were surprisingly easy to tell apart from the gum leaves, as they were thicker and more curled in their dry state – and more brittle. I’d soon collected enough for an experiment.
Both fresh and dried leaves were given their own pot to soak in overnight. The next morning, the fresh leaves had started to ferment, and there was a waxy film on the surface and the sides of the pot. Simmering for an hour produced no noticeable colour (just an unpleasant smell), so I turned to the dry leaves. The liquor was already a deep brown before cooking, and after an hour the yarn was added. It had already been in a E. sideroxylon dyepot and had only picked up a smidgen of colour. This time, however, the yarn took on a straw colour.