Cochineal (Dactylopius coccus)
Natural cochineal from Oaxaca, Mexico.
Cochineal has been used historically in the Americas for centuries and some of its earliest use has been traced back to the Aztec and Mayan civilizations. Cochineal’s deep red color comes from the tiny scale insects who live on Opuntia (nopal) cacti.
Cochineal can be used with a variety of mordants like symplocos, alum etc to make a variety of natural red and purple colours. Recipes are available in Michel Garcia's Natural Dye Workshop DVD.