Golden Grass (Syngonanthus Nitens) or Capim Dourado

This month we’re focussing in on another of our key Fairtrade and Ethical Materials Capim Dourado which literally translates as "golden grass". It is the stem of a white flower from the family of evergreens, scientifically known as Syngonanthus niten.  

 

What is it? 

“it is a delicate flowering plant whose stem has an intrinsic metallic shine and a natural golden hue that resembles a gold wire” – TGGC

without the need for sprays, polishing or any other kind of treatment the colour lasts. 

…despite its name, it is not a grass, that is, it does not belong to the grass family, being, in fact, the stem of a small white flower from the family of the evergreens (family Eriocaulaceae). Each foot of golden grass is a shoe (or rosette, as experts say), which grows close to the ground and is three or four centimetres wide. Each shoe, in general, produces two rods per year. However, some plants can produce up to 20 stems / year. At the top of the stems, very small flowers sprout, which result in small dried fruits. Such fruits are not edible, they are the guardians of the seeds that guarantee the perpetuation of the species. Each stem head holds up to 60 seeds, which, due to their small size, have an appearance of brown dust… the fruits must be cut and dispersed in the soil right after the harvest – artgoldengrass.pt 

 

 

Where is it grown? 

 

It is found only in Jalapão, a savannah-like expanse within the northern state of Tocantins in Brazil. 

How is it farmed? 

Demand for the golden grass crafts increased the extraction of the plant. Worries about the golden grass’s sustainability have led the local government, non-governmental institutions and the communities of Jalapão to develop sustainable practices to help control the harvest while assuring the vital economic activity around golden grass. To empower the artisans, for instance, the sale of raw material is prohibited outside of Jalapão and golden grass can only be sold in the form of crafts and finished components for jewellery, personal and home accessories. In addition, to conserve the species the stems can only be harvested by licensed artisans from late September to November after seed maturation and dispersion have occurred. – TGGC

 

What is it used for? 

 

It is lightweight, durable, flexible and naturally golden, it is used by artisans to make beautiful tribal jewellery and accessories and craft items. Most of the artisans are women and they work in their own homes, which enables them to look after their young children at the same time. 

The Afro-Brazilian people of the Mumbuca community began creating jewellery, hat, baskets, bags, and belts out of golden grass. In the 1930’s, the indigenous Xerente tribe taught local inhabitants the art of weaving golden grass. The jewellery, hats, baskets, and belts were traditionally woven together with fibres of leaves from the Moriche Palm. – Canoa Naturals 

We love having this material as part of our repertoire of materials, all natural, vegan friendly, Fairtrade and helping small communities of women back home, it’s exactly what our brand is all about.