An ethnobotanical survey of practicing dyers in the biodiversity rich ecosystems of Sierra Leone and of the literature was conducted on the common plant species used to produce natural dyes. In addition, the methods used to obtain these dyes and to dye fabric, together with the techniques used to produce various patterns on fabric were investigated. Although the thriving dye industry is now predominantly serviced by synthetic dyes, the knowledge of the plants used still survives among some dyers, who use plant dyes to some extent. However this indigenous knowledge is rapidly being lost as increasingly less of it is being passed on to succeeding generations. Several plants used in the dyeing process are documented, together with their taxonomic characteristics; local names; how the dyes are produced and fabric dyed; the colors obtained; in addition to how various patterns are designed. Sustainable utilization of this important renewable natural resource is discussed.
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