RSC - Advancing the Chemical Sciences



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Purple in nature
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<img src="images/nature/content/corner_01.jpg" alt="Replacement for sound clip" tabindex="1" />

Natural Dyes


It took 12,000 molluscs to produce just enough Tyrian Purple to dye a single dress the size of a Roman toga. Purple garments labelled the wearer as a wealthy or privileged individual. The purple toga was introduced to Roman Civilisation by the first kings of Rome from 753 BC.
Flash keyboard access: press the spacebar to both open and close the animation .
<img src="images/nature/content/nature_content_11.jpg" alt="A mollusc" tabindex="3" />
Lichen beans

Cheaper natural dyes


With the discovery that it was possible to produce purple dye from lichen (Rocella) the use of the Royal or Tyrian purple declined. It was replaced by cheaper dyes such as lichen purple and the madder plant.
Kermes insect

The Pope and the Roman Catholic Church


In 1467, Pope Paul II introduced "Cardinal’s Purple" a scarlet colour extracted from the Kermes insect from which the English word crimson derives. It became the first luxury dye of the Middle Ages bringing cardinals on to a level with kings.
Flash keyboard access: the pope is not interactive.
<img src="images/nature/content/nature_content_16.jpg" alt="The Pope" tabindex="6" />
Flash keyboard access: the following lowercase keys change the colour of the carrot. a is white , b is purple c is red, d is yellow, e is green, f is black, space returns carrot to original colour.
<img src="images/nature/content/nature_content_08.jpg" alt="Red carrots" tabindex="7" />
In 2003 a new species of purple frog was discovered by two scientists in India.
Flash keyboard access: press the spacebar hear the frog croak.
<img src="images/nature/content/nature_content_frog.jpg" alt="Purple frog" tabindex="8" />

Purple Carrots


Temple drawings from Egypt dating back to 2000BC show a plant believed to be a purple carrot. It was not until the 17th Century that they turned orange, when patriotic Dutch growers favoured the colour - as used on their national flag.
Flash keyboard access: the butterfly is not interactive.
<img src="images/nature/content/nature_flash_21.jpg" alt="Butterfly" tabindex="9" />