- Lawsonia inermis L.
- Lawsonia alba
- Loosestrife family
Parts Usually Used
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
Henna is a small shrub, the grayish-green leaves are elliptical and
from 1-2 inches long. Fragrant red flowers highly prized by Egyptian
ladies, grow in large panicles.
Grows in Arabia, North Africa, Iran, and the East Indies.
Legends, Myths and Stories
Few women of today realize that they are using an herb used by women
in Cleopatra’s time and for thousands of years before in Egypt.
The ladies of those remote times used Henna for dyeing their finger
and toe nails also. Even the men used the herb for dyeing their beards
and coloring the manes and tails of their horses. These methods were
not approved of by other peoples according to this ancient writing
which states in regards to captured ladies of the ancient civilization:
“Then thou shalt bring her home, to thine house; and she shall
shave her head and pare her nails.” So strong was the prejudice
against dyeing hair that women of Europe did not use Henna until the
very late 19th century. From the fashion centers of Vienna and Paris,
the use of Henna spread rapidly over the world.
Henna is simple to prepare. The fine cut leaves or powdered leaves
are made into a paste with hot water and applied to the hair and allowed
to remain until the desired shade is obtained. On finger or toe nails
the paste is allowed to remain over-night or paste is renewed often
until the desired shade is obtained. Plain Henna adds an auburn shade
to the nails. Various shades may be obtained by mixing Henna with
Indigo, Sage, or other dye plants.
Henna is not only the oldest known hair rinse in the world but is
the most widely used as well. The old texts remind us that “when
dyeing (the hair), consider color of your eyebrows, complexion, etc.,
in order to get a harmonizing and natural appearance. Henna dye shows
the color more after the second day of application.” Shampoo
the hair before using the hair dye.
A decoction made from the leaves is used as a gargle and, taken internally
or used externally, for skin problems. Also, sometimes it is taken
as a headache remedy. The
leaves can be used internally or externally for jaundice,
leprosy, and psoriasis. The
bark is used as a dye.