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False Indigo

False Indigo


False Indigo, Amorpha fruticosa 

Manure height 10-12 feet, 6 feet wide

Use this plant in a woodland or bog garden, along a pond margin or stream bank.  

Plant in the full sun to partial shade moist to dry soil.  It is tolerant of a large range of soil types.  Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems:  Typically has no serious disease or insect issues.  Leaf spot, powdery mildew, rust, and twig canker are diseases that may have some effect on the plants' overall health.

Contributed by: USDA, NRCS, Plant Materials Program Uses

Wildlife: The use of false indigo bush, Amorpha fruticosa, is for establishing wildlife food and cover on upland sites. A primary use will be for “Quail Covey headquarter” mixes on upland sites. Covey headquarters are clumps of dense shrubby cover with a canopy at least three feet in height. Quail need this type of patchy “escape cover” on a daily basis. The planting is small approximately 1500 sq. ft. (50 feet x 30 feet) in size. It is made up of short growing shrubs and legumes.

Erosion Control: False indigo bush will address erosion control along fluctuating shorelines, streams, and wetlands by establishing quickly and providing cover. The use of false indigo bush can enhance wetland riparian areas by providing a shrubby cover up to 10 feet in height.

Description False indigo bush, Amorpha fruticosa L., is a native legume that has growth form like a medium sized shrub up to ten feet in height. The general shape is an open canopy with the bulk of foliage and twigs in the upper 1/3 of the crown. The leaves are alternate, pinnately compound. Each leaflet is up to two inches long and just over one inch wide with a small, bristly like point at the rounded tip. The flowers are in dense spikes on the upper part of the plant, often several spikes clustered together. Each flower has dark indigo-purple petals with yellow-tipped stamens. Flowering time: late spring to mid-summer. Twigs are rigid, glaborous, redbrown or gray, often with an insect caused, long swelling near the tip. The fruit is a small, warty kidney shaped pod (1/2 inch long), with large glandular dots, in a crowded cylindrical cluster. The fruit persist on the shrub through winter. Found in more open areas along lakes and streams. May be found in upland areas where additional moisture is received.

Adaptation False indigo bush occurs in moist prairie thickets and along streams and rivers in prairies throughout the tall grass region. It is found as far North as New Jersey, Minnesota, down to the Mexican border and does well throughout the U.S. False indigo bush likes full sun or light shade and thrives in moist soils that are poorly drained. 

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