By: Zainab Texiwala


Scientific Name:

The scientific name of the Henna Plant is Lawsonia inermis, the Genus being Lawsonia (Britannica, n.d.).It is from the family Lythraceae, also known as the loosestrife family (plantcultures, n.d.). It has other names such as, Egyption Privet, Reseda, and Jamaica mignonette (Britannica kids, n.d.). Other names would be; El-Henna, Egyptian priest, and is sometimes known as Lawsonia Alba Lam. and Lawsonia Ruba (tattoo me, 2006).


The Henna Plant is a tropical shrub or a small tree (Britannica, n.d.). A Henna plants flowers are sweet-scented, and are creamy or red (tattoo me, 2006). Each flower has 4 petals, 8 stamens, and 4 sepals (plantcultures, n.d.). The Henna plant is a shrub, and at its highest it can reach up to 7 meters (plantcultures, n.d.). The leaf of this plant is the shape of an almond (plantcultures, n.d.). Its Bark is grayish-brown and the wood of the Henna plant is hard (plantcultures, n.d.). Figure 1. is an example of the Henna plant.

Figure 1. A small Henna plant (xualan, n.d.)
Environmental Conditions where the Henna plant is grown:

If temperatures never drop below 11C then the Henna plant can be grown outdoors (hennapage, 2005). The best place to cultivate the Henna plant is in a place with the lowest moisture and highest heat, this creates the most amount of tannin (Impressions Cosmetics, n.d.). Tannin is what contributes to the rich colour of Henna (Impressions Cosmetics, n.d.). The shrub grows best in places without water, and dry soils (Impressions Cosmetics, n.d.).

Where Lawsonia inermis is commonly found and where it is cultivated:

It is a shrub that grows in North Africa, and Middle East (First American Edition, 2004). It is also native to Asia, and Australia (Britannica, n.d.). It is cultivated in India, Pakistan, Yemen, Morocco, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya (Impressions Cosmetics, n.d.).

How do we get it? Which part of the plant is henna made from?

The part of the plant that Henna is made from is the leaf (Department of health Florida, 2008). A close up of the leaf is in Figure 2.The leaf is dried, crushed and then mixed with water (Department of Health Florida, 2008). The paste is then made into Henna and applied on different parts of the body, it is also used in hair dyes, and medicine (plantcultures, n.d.).

Figure 2. The leaf of a Henna plant, this is the part used to make hair dyes, and is applied on skin (also used for many other purposes) (Wikimedia, 2007)
Flowchart 1. (below) will explain the processes that go into making the henna dye,and paste.

Flowchart 1. Explanation of how the Henna plant is made.

See Figure 3. to see the final product once the powder is created it should be a green or yellowish colour to be true Henna without the mixture of different chemicals and other plants (Henna for Hair, n.d.).

Figure 3. A picture of the Henna powder used on skin, and for hair dye (ajwitafro, 2010)

What is Henna plant used for? Who uses it? How has society, economy, environment improved with Henna? How has Henna replaced other products on the market? Why?

Henna has an orange to red colour (The Crunchy Wife, 2010). The Henna plant has many uses. Its main use is for applying it on the skin, it is also used for hair dye (e.encyclopedia Science, 2010). Henna Plants leaves are also used in medicines (plantcultures, n.d.). The oil from the flowers of this plant are used in making perfumes and so are the seeds (plantcultures, n.d.). The seeds are also used for medicines (plantcultures, n.d.). The Henna plant is used to prevent premature graying of hair, skin diseases, leprosy, and it lowers body temperature to get rid of headaches (Mother Herbs, n.d.).

People who use it for ceremonial purposes in India, at weddings, etc. (Tattoo me, 2006). Different companies for hair dying products also use Henna because it is rich in colour, the colour being red (The Crunchy Wife, 2010).

Society has improved with Henna because it is a natural way of dying hair, it has no harmful effects and is completely natural (The Crunchy Wife, 2010). Since it is natural it can have no harmful affect on the environment (The crunchy Wife, 2010). It is used on special occasions in Asia and other places it is good for the economy (Tattoo me, n.d.). Many companies also use this product in their hair dyes, it helps make jobs and in return is good for the economy, an example of a company would be Mehndi and Body Art Central (Jones, n.d.).

Are there down sides to Henna?

Natural Henna does not have any harmful side affects in fact it is very beneficial it acts as a conditioner, strengthens hair and much more (Jones, n.d.). But no matter how good henna is, if you add PPD like most of the companies do in hair dye, it can be very harmful (The Crunchy Wife, 2010). PPD can cause severe allergic reactions and is used in Black Henna, many people do not know what is being added in the Black henna that they buy (The Crunchy Wife, 2010). Indigo can replace Henna because it creates darker shades of red (The Crunchy Wife, 2010). Henna also takes around 7 months to germinate, which is quite a long time and also if the flowers are needed it takes around 6 years for the plant to start growing its flowers (plantcultures, n.d.).


Henna is a very natural way of dying hair. It is used with other substances like indigo to change the shades of the henna (the crunchy wife, 2010). The plant itself is a very formidable plant, that grows in really dry areas (Impressions Cosmetics, n.d.). An example of Henna applied on hands is in Figure 4. (below)

Figure 4. A picture of Henna being applied on hands (Helpful health tips, 2006)


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