SS23 "Pervasive Bloom" Removal - Berbo Studio X Test Plot X Older Brother
This Spring-Summer 2023 we explore a concept of utilizing a dye material that is widely abundant and whose removal could potentially benefit the environment.

The ubiquitous yellow-flowered mustard – Brassica species – adds vibrant color to the many green spaces in and around Los Angeles and by default has become a visual signifier of spring. The towering stalks of the mustard – often mistaken as a native wildflower, is the stuff of super blooms. We discovered it can be utilized as a natural dye, an over-abundant, renewable resource.

Mustard forms monocultures – areas where little other plant life can grow, limiting biodiversity and disrupting entire ecosystems. Additionally, as mustard dies back in the summer it creates a tremendous amount of fuel for wildfires, posing a significant threat to communities.
While mustards are likely here to stay in California, there are methods of managing their presence that can still leave room for local plant ecology to regain their footing. One form of management that we participated in is removal. By removing thousands of individual mustard plants from public land while in their flowering phase, fewer mustard seeds are added to the seed bank. Utilizing the whole plant for its natural yellow-to-green flavonoid and tannin dyes, we ensure that their harvest becomes useful and lives on in the long lives of the garments they’ve colored.
Older Brother has removed hundreds of pounds of mustard from public lands this spring in collaboration with Test Plot at their Elephant Hill site. A monoculture of mustard – some plants growing rampant at 8 to 9 feet tall – was reduced to make space for the native lupine and morning glory. Test Plot is continuing a tradition of community care of the land at Elephant Hill (that began with organizations like Save Elephant Hill and Coyotl Macehualli) and we hope to continue to participate in this collective stewardship.
In our partnership with the experimental native plant restoration group Test Plot, Older Brother hopes to help raise awareness about how non-native and “invasive” plants impact our relationships to the land we call home.
While we acknowledge that the invasive species issue a complex one, we chose to explore this concept as part in our continuing efforts to seek out meaningful materials that increase our awareness of our own interactions with nature.