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Amorpha fruticosa L.
Indigo bush, False indigo bush, False indigo, Desert false indigo
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.
Bloom InformationBloom Color:
Orange , Blue , Purple , Violet Bloom Time:
Apr , May , Jun Bloom Notes: Corolla
deep violet-purple, anthers orange, style
, WY Canada: MB
, ON Native Distribution: NJ
to s.e. WI, MN,
Sask. & WY,
s. to FL, TX
& n. Mex.,S. CA
& adjacent Mex. Native Habitat:
Stream & pond edges; gravel bars, open woods; roadsides, canyons.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist soils to dry sands. pH adaptable. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Acid-based, Calcareous.
BenefitUse 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
Larval Host: California & southern dogfaces, Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus), Gray hairstreak, Hoary edge skipper.
Deer Resistant: High
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:
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
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
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 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, TXLady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
- Austin, TXTexas Discovery Gardens
- Dallas, TXBrackenridge Field Laboratory
- Austin, TXCrosby Arboretum
- Picayune, MSTexas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Austin, TXNPSOT - Austin Chapter
- Austin, TXNative Seed Network
- Corvallis, ORJacob's Well Natural Area
- Wimberley, TX
Herbarium Specimen(s)NPSOT 0651
Collected Jun 6, 1992 in Medina County by Harry Cliffe
Wildflower Center Seed BankLBJWC-TS-2
Collected 2009-07-02 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
* Available Online from Wildflower Center Store
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
Record Last Modified: 2012-12-07
Research By: NPC, MWJ