Danais ligustrifolia is a climbing shrub producing stems up to 25 metres long.
An important dye plant in Madagascar where it is commonly harvested from the wild for use in local crafts. The plant also has local medicinal uses.
Africa - eastern Madagascar.
Lowland rainforest, sometimes in valleys and ravines, at elevations from sea-level up to 1,000 metres[
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Although this species was not mentioned specifically, the roots of many species in this genus are used as a treatment against herpes, whilst the bark is a febrifuge[
The roots are one of the main sources of orange to red dyes, used in traditional textiles in Madagascar to dye raffia and silk. Red is one of the most important colours in these textiles, for instance in ‘raffia ikats’. Raffia ikats are long pieces of raffia cloth in which some portions of the warp yarns are tied with thick threads to protect the patterns before dyeing the yarn; successive patterns of tying and dyeing in different dye baths create multicoloured designs, usually in the natural ivory colour of the raffia fibre, red, orange or pink, two shades of blue, black and yellow or green. Red vegetable dye is also very important in the ‘lamba mena’, fine textiles used as shrouds. Before dyeing it with the root of Danais ligustrifolia, the fibre is prepared by boiling it in water to which ash is added, then it is washed and dried. The roots of Danais ligustrifolia are pounded and put into almost boiling water; usually 2 parts of root with 3 parts of water make up the total volume of the dye bath. Then the fibre is added, submerged and left for 1 - 6 hours, depending on the intensity of the colour wanted. Subsequently the dyed fibre is washed again and dried[
Like other Danais species, the bark and roots of this species most probably contain the anthraquinones danain and danaidin, which are the sources of the orange and red dyes obtained from these plants[
The leaves of many Danais species contain high proportions of aluminium (up to 1% of the dry matter weight in Danais fragrans (Comm. Ex Lam.) Pers.), which can be used as an organic mordant[
]. Aluminium salts are a most useful substance for using in dyeing processes, where they strengthen and multiply the chemical bonds between the textile fibres and the majority of natural dyes[
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