Cochineal: Produces bright reds to fuchsia, pink and purples

Source: Dried/crushed insects

Cochineal is extracted from the female insect found on the  prickly pear cactus native to Mexico & Central/South America producing the crimson coloured dye.

From the French "cochenille", it means "scarlet coloured" in Latin. It was used in North America as early as the 15th century. And as early as the 2nd Century by the Aztec and Mayan peoples. By the 17th Century it was exported to Spain following the conquest of the Aztecs.  The source of the colour was kept secret until the 18th Century. By then, the vibrant red robes of Catholic cardinals and the British "Redcoats", along with fabrics for kings and nobles were dyed using Cochineal insects.

It's important to note that prior to the "discovery" of Cochineal, Madder was the early source of reds but faded over time to dull pink or brown. Cochineal was more vibrant and stable but also very expensive. In the mid-1700's until late 1800's, Madder & Cochineal were mixed together 3 to one for a distinct red for the British Redcoats lower ranks. The higher ranked officers cloth was dyed with pure cochineal, the more expensive and vibrant scarlet dye. By the late 19th century, inexpensive synthetic red dye was developed.

Cochineal being water-soluble is one of the most stable colours, resistant over time to sunlight, heat and oxidation. It is also used today in food dyes, cosmetics and also drugs.