Mallotus is derived from the Latin mallus, a lock of wool, referring to the hairs on the leaves and fruits of some members of the genus; discolor is Latin for ‘of another colour, of varied colours’.
Flowers are borne usually in November or December. They are greyish and occur in racemes, 7 – 10 cm long, from the leaf axils.
The fruits are capsule-like, about 6 mm in diameter, yellow or orange, 2 – 4 lobed, usually ripe in January. They are attractive to birds and fruit bats. Fire retardant species.
A yellow dye can be produced from the fruit covering. The related species Mallotus philippensis is the tree usually associated with Kamala dye, but it is understood that Mallotus discolor can also be used. The granules that cover the ripe fruit are used in India for dyeing silk and wool a bright orange. It is now generally used only at village level, as it is much too expensive to produce in comparison with synthetic dyes.
Form: Tree to 15 Metres High
Aspect: Full Sun / Semi-Shade
Soil/Conditions: Adaptable / Prefers Moist
NOTE - Living plants must be collected (by appointment) - postage not available