Henna, also known as Lawsonia Inermis or mignonette, is a beautifully scented tree or shrub that may grow up to twenty feet tall. It blooms with small, fragrant, pink white, yellow, or red flowers and produces blue-black berries. The henna plant grows best in hot weather where there is little moisture. It is native to the Middle East, North Africa and the Indo-Pak subcontinent. Only a few countries export their henna while others grow theirs for local commercial use.
The part of the plant most widely used is the leaf and these are cultivated during the plant’s growing seasons and dried. According to Juliette de Bairacli Levy, “The whole shrub, skin of roots, bark of trunk and branches, and fresh berries yield henna, the alcanna of the Arabs. This herb is extremely penetrative and therefore a very effective and very popular dye.” (Levy; 78) Chemically, henna is known to contain coumarins, naphthoquinones (including lawsone), flavenoids, sterols, and tannins. (Chevalier; 225).
Then once the leaves are dried, they are ground up into a very fine powder. Once this henna powder is ready, it's made into a paste, which can be used to naturally color the hair or on skin as a temporary form of body art tattoo. It typically dyes the skin and hair an orange to cherry red-brown tone (tone varies on the person's skin, and hair color etc).
This plant grows best in hot weather where there is little moisture. It is native to the Middle East, North Africa, and the Indo-Pak subcontinent. Only a few countries export their henna, while others grow theirs for local commercial use.