International Journal of
Biodiversity and Conservation

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Biodivers. Conserv.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-243X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJBC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 625

Full Length Research Paper

Sources of natural dyes and tannins among the Somali community living in Garissa County, Kenya

Josephine Kamene Musyoki*, Albert Makee Luvanda and Emily Mumbua Kitheka
Kenya Forestry Research Institute, P. O Box 892-90200, Kitui, Kenya.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 31 July 2012
  •  Published: 30 September 2012



This study was undertaken in Garissa County to document the trees and other plant species used as sources of natural dyes and tannins. A survey involving a total of 71 respondents was conducted in six divisions of Garissa County. The respondents were randomly selected and interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire and analyzed using Microsoft Office Excel 2007 and SPSS computer packages (Version 11.5). The findings showed that the main sources of livelihood included livestock production, sale of dye and tannin products and businesses in that order. Natural dyes were a major input on woodcarvings, mainly utensils used for milking and storage of milk and water. Both men and women in the community used Lawsonia inermis L for hair dyeing and skin decoration. The main plant sources for dyes and tannins were enumerated as Commiphora holtiziana (Haggar), Acacia bussei,L. inermis L (Elan) and Commiphora campestris Engl, among others. The mordant used were Magadi soda and ashes from specific trees/shrubs such as Salsola dendroides Pall. Var Africana Brenan (Durte). All the dyes and tannins, except for L. inermis, were extracted locally from inner and/or outer bark. The processes involved include de-barking, pounding the bark, boiling and adding the mordant and application to wooden utensils and to fibers used for weaving. There exists a potential in the natural dyes and tannins industry, making it necessary to strengthen the capacity of the local community to conserve the dye producing plants, encourage collaboration and networking amongst the stakeholders and improving the marketing environment.


Key words: Livelihood, natural dyes and tannins, plant sources, mordant, extraction, conservation, bark.