Renealmia alpinia

Orden: Order: Zingiberales

Familia: Family: Zingiberaceae

Género: Genus: Renealmia

Especie: Species: Alpinia

Nombres comunes: Common names: Chírica, guaiporé, ixquihit, monoj, naike, pintura negra.

Parte de la planta que se usa para el pigmento: Part of the plant used for pigment: Fruit shell

Color: (+ lemon = pink) (+ alum stone = purple)

Huitillo pigment on paper. 102 x 68 cm.

Herbarium. Dried Huitillo leaves, sewn on rice paper.
77 x 57 cm. 2013.

Monotype on rice paper made from the dried Huitillo leaves.
100 x 65 cm. 2013.



Huitillo. Leticia, Colombia, 2011.

Descripción general

General Description

Herbaceous, aromatic plant, which may grow two to six meters tall. Its oblong leaves accumulate at the top of its elongated stems. Its yellow-reddish flowers are grouped in clusters at the base of the plant, with its elliptical-shaped fruits located in the same spot. These fruits can vary from reddish to dark purple when ripe.

Huitillo. Leticia, Colombia, 2011.

Distribución geográfica
e historia natural

Geographic Distribution
and Natural History

Found along tropical America, from Belize to Brazil, including the Lesser Antilles. It is less frequent in forests and more common in clearings. Blooms for extended periods of time and fruits during rainy seasons. It grows in warm, humid climates along the slopes of mountain ranges.

One of the steps in the manual color extraction process. Leticia, Colombia, 2011.



It somewhat resembles certain types of heliconia. Its spicy fruit is edible and harvested in different countries such as Ecuador and Mexico. It also produces cooking oil, ink, and is used as a medicinal plant to treat nausea. The crude hexane extract from the leaves of this plant has been used to treat leishmaniasis.



The huitillo yields a purple color after macerating ripe fruit’s skin. This plant offers a wide spectrum of possibilities because it produces a high-yielding pigment that easily binds to the different surfaces used. Exposure to heat is indispensable during the setting process. An intense indigo blue is the result of using only the skin. If lemon is added, the color turns purple-fuchsia, and if the pigment is mixed with white clay, the result is a pastel purple. When a fair amount of alum stone is applied, the result is a purple-royal blue shade.

Extracción + teñido

Extraction + dyeing