Isatis tinctoria L. - Woad.

Taxonomic position.

Family Brassicaceae, genus Isatis L.

Morphology and biology.

Biennial plant, 70-80 cm tall. Bottom leaves are acutate, oblong-lanceolate, pilose, smooth-edged or serrated. Middle and upper leaves are linear, acute, narrow and arrow-shaped. Inflorescence is sparse, paniculate. Petals are yellow, 3-4.5 mm in length. Silicles are bare, 3-4 times longer than they are wide, 13-16 mm long and 3-4 mm wide, oblong linear with a wedge-shaped base, obtuse or emarginate; the core is thin, somewhat ribbed. Blossoms in June; bears fruit in August. Entomophilous. Chromosome number is unknown.


Occurs throughout Central, Eastern, and Atlantic Europe. Within the former USSR, the specie occurs throughout the European part (Middle Dnieper, Volga-Don, Upper and Lower Volga, Near-Black-Sea, Lower Don, Trans-Volga and Crimean areas); the Caucasus (Ante-Caucasus, southern Trans-Caucasus and Daghestan); and Middle Asia (Aral-Caspian and Near-Balkhash areas).


Occurs near seacoasts, on steppes, and on dry hills and hillsides; rare adventitious plants occur along railroads.

Utilization and economic value.

Leaves yield ingredients for blue and green dyes used for dying cloth. Nectariferous plant.

Reference citations:

Bush N.A., ed. 1939. Flora of the USSR. Vol. 8. Cruciferae. Moscow-Leningrad, 212-213 pp. (In Russian)
Cherepanov S.K. 1995. Plantae Vasculares Rossicae et Civitatum Collimitanearum (in limicis USSR olim). St. Petersburg: Mir I Semia. 990 pp. (In Russian)
Dorofeev V.I. 1998. Family Cruciferae (Brassicaceae) middle Zone of a European part of the Russian Federation. Turchaninowia, Barnaul, 1(3): 94 pp. (In Russian)
Dorofeev V.I. 2002. Cruciferae (Brassicaceae) of European Russia. Turchaninowia, Barnaul, 5(3): 115 pp. (In Russian)
Grossgeim, A.A. 1950. Flora of the Caucasus. Vol. 4. Moscow-Leningrad, 175 pp. (In Russian)

© T.N. Smekalova


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