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AMORPHA fruticosa

Image of Amorpha fruticosa

Jesse Saylor

Family

Fabaceae

Botanical Name

AMORPHA fruticosa

Plant Common Name

Bastard Indigo, Desert False Indigo

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Although having lovely green foliage, the desert false indigo's habit find few gardeners in love with it. The blue-violet to indigo colored flower spikes occur in midsummer. A spreading but also upright, rather unkempt deciduous shrub, it is native to a wide expanse of the eastern United States and southcentral Canada as well as in moister canyons and steamsides in the southwest America deserts. Often considered weedy, it is a tough, durable plant.

The pleasant bright green leaves are made up of 13-33 oval leaflets, perhaps its prettiest feature. The sprawling gray-brown stems are topped by flinger-like spikes of indigo blue-violet, pea-shaped flowers in late spring or early summer. Each has orange colored anthers that carry the pollen which is collected by beeds and butterflies. It loses its foliage in winter to reveal the seemingly untidy looking naked branches.

Grow desert false indigo in full to partial sun in moist, fertile to nutrient poor soils with good drainage. It is quite tolerant of heat and drought and thus makes it very useful to green up areas where few other plants grow nicely. Once established, it will persevere, sometimes reseeding and becoming invasive, such as in the American Northeast. If trained, the lowest branches can be removed to create a more upright shrub that looks like a small tree. Use it in the water conserving garden as an accent or to vegetate barren areas in urban concrete matrices.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    2 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    8'-15' / 2.4m - 4.6m

  • Width

    8'-15' / 2.4m - 4.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, South-Central United States, Southwestern United States, California, Texas, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Spreading

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Indigo, Blue Violet

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Foundation, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Screening / Wind Break

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes