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Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)
Cox, Paul

Amorpha fruticosa

Amorpha fruticosa L.

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

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Synonym(s): Amorpha angustifolia, Amorpha bushii, Amorpha croceolanata, Amorpha curtissii, Amorpha dewinkeleri, Amorpha fruticosa var. angustifolia, Amorpha fruticosa var. croceolanata, Amorpha fruticosa var. emarginata, Amorpha fruticosa var. oblongifolia, Amorpha fruticosa var. occidentalis, Amorpha fruticosa var. tennesseensis, Amorpha occidentalis, Amorpha occidentalis var. arizonica, Amorpha occidentalis var. emarginata, Amorpha tennesseensis, Amorpha virgata

USDA Symbol: amfr

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

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.

 

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
Flower:
Fruit:
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.

Distribution

USA: AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
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.

Benefit

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

Propagation

Description: Propagation is possible by scarified seed and softwood or hardwood cuttings.
Seed Collection: Collect in late summer or early fall when the pod turns yellowish brown and begins to dry. Air dry and store in sealed, refrigerated containers for three to five years.
Seed Treatment: Mechanically nick the seed, soak in hot water for 10 minutes, or scarify in concentrated sulfuric acid five to eight minutes.
Commercially Avail: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

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
Learn more at BAMONA
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

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Variety of native tall plants for a screen in shady area near Ft. Worth
June 12, 2007
Hello, we live west of Ft Worth. We are looking for tall plants to form a visual screen along a chain link fence we share with a neighbor. We have post oaks there and it is very shady and the ground ...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FACW FACW FACW FACW FACW FACW FACW
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Hill Country Natives - Leander, TX

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:

Fredericksburg Nature Center - Fredericksburg, TX
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Jacob's Well Natural Area - Wimberley, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0651 Collected Jun 6, 1992 in Medina County by Harry Cliffe

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-TS-2 Collected 2009-07-02 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
* Available Online from Wildflower Center Store

Bibliography

Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 354 - Native & Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin & the Hill Country (1981) Lynch, D.
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
* The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter1998 VOL. 15, NO.5 - Native Shrubs Providing Landscape Heritage and Habitat, Executive Director\'s Re...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Amorpha fruticosa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Amorpha fruticosa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Amorpha fruticosa

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2012-12-07
Research By: NPC, MWJ

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