Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Amorpha fruticosa

Indigo bush, False indigo bush, False indigo, Desert false indigo

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)
Cox, Paul
False indigo-bush is a 6-10 ft., loose, airy shrub which often forms dense thickets. Plants develop a leggy character with the majority of their pinnately compound, fine-textured foliage on the upper third of the plant. Leaflets velvety on the lower surface, margins frequently almost parallel, often abruptly rounded at both ends and with a notch at the tip. Flowers small, purple to dark blue with yellow stamens extending beyond the single petal, crowded in narrow, 3-6 in., spikelike clusters at or near the ends of the branchlets, appearing from April to June. Fruit small, up to 3/8 inch long and with blisterlike glands visible under a 10x hand lens. This is a deciduous plant.

This shrub, which often forms thickets on riverbanks and islands, can be weedy or invasive in the northeast. Another False Indigo (A. herbacea) has whitish to blue-violet flowers in fan-like masses on top of the plant and gray-downy foliage with up to 40 leaflets. The genus name, from the Greek amorphos (formless or deformed), alludes to the fact that the flower, with only a single petal (the banner or standard), is unlike the typical pea flowers of the family.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Apex: Mucronate
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Size Class: 6-12 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Orange , Blue , Purple , Violet
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Corolla deep violet-purple, anthers orange, style purplish.


USA: AL , AZ , AR , CA , CO , CT , DE , FL , GA , ID , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , NC , ND , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VT , VA , WA , WV , WI , WY , DC
Canada: MB , ON
Native Distribution: NJ to s.e. WI, MN, Sask. & WY, s. to FL, TX & n. Mex.,S. CA to NM & adjacent Mex.
Native Habitat: Stream & pond edges; gravel bars, open woods; roadsides, canyons.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Aquatic: yes
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist soils to dry sands. pH adaptable. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Acid-based, Calcareous.


Use Ornamental: Fast growing, Attractive, Blooms ornamental, Bog or pond area, Water garden
Use Wildlife: Nectar-bees, Nectar-butterflies, Nectar-insects, Browse.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: California & southern dogfaces, Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus), Gray hairstreak, Hoary edge skipper.
Deer Resistant: High

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Amorpha fruticosa is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Silver-spotted Skipper
(Epargyreus clarus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Southern Dogface
(Zerene cesonia)

Larval Host
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California Dogface
(Zerene eurydice)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Gray Hairstreak
(Strymon melinus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Hoary Edge
(Achalarus lyciades)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2012-12-07