Dyer’s Woad

Dyer’s Woad (Brassicaceae (=Cruciferae), the mustard family

Dyer's WoadBACKGROUND: Dyer’s woad was introduced into North America from Europe, probably late in the 17th century. It was cultivated as a source of blue dye and has since naturalized as a weed of dry areas in our region. Dyer’s woad spreads primarily by seed.

DESCRIPTION: Dyer’s woad can be winter annual or biennial, or short-lived perennial. The basal leaves arise from thick taproot, are lightly pubescent, have long petioles, and are up to 8 inches long. Stem leaves clasp the stem and are lance shaped, not pubescent, and shorter than the lower leaves. Leaves all have prominent whitish midvein. Stems are up to 4 feet tall and bear 1/4-inch wide, yellow flowers in flat-topped clusters during May and June. Fruits are teardrop shaped, 3/4 inch long, purplish brown at maturity, pendulous, and each contains a single seed.

Dyer's WoadDISTRIBUTION: Dyer’s woad is occasionally found in the eastern U.S., but is in the West where it is a serious weed. Dyer’s woad is prevalent in central and many of the southern Idaho counties.

CONTROL: No biological control agents are available for dyer’s woad, but herbicides are available.

Dyer's Woad Distribution Map - Grey Area 


© 1999 University of Idaho: Text and photographs for these pages from Idaho’s Noxious Weeds, by Robert H. Callihan and Timothy W. Miller (revised by Don W. Morishita and Larry W. Lass).

Please contact: Ag Publishing, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho 83844-2240; (208) 882-7982; [email protected]; or visit the UI Extension/CALS Publications and Multimedia Catalog website at www.cals.uidaho.edu/edComm/catalog.asp, for more information about this or other publications.