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Indigofera tinctoria

Indigofera tinctoria L.

Indigofera sumatrana Gaertn.

Indigo, True Indigo

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFabalesLegumes (pea and bean families)
FamilyFabaceaeLegume family (peas and beans)
GenusIndigofera“Producing indigo”
Speciestinctoria"Used in dyeing" (from Stearn's Botanical Latin)

About plant names...

Indigo was the original source of the blue dye that colors most jeans. At a time when blue and purple dyes were rare, indigo’s ability to be processed into many shades of blue and violet placed it in very high demand. The dye is not taken from the pale colored flowers, but processed from a substance called indican into the intense blue dye indigotin. Indigo is not native to North America, but has become naturalized. It is called true indigo because an unrelated plant, false indigo, was sometimes used as an inferior substitute. See e.g. yellow false indigo.

Real indigo is compared below with two varieties of blue false indigo, as well as yellow false indigo.

 

Indigofera tinctoria (Indigo, True Indigo)

ID is dubious because indigo apparently doesn't occur in AZ. · 5/22/2009 · Slide Rock State Park, Sedona, AZ
≈ 17 × 11" (43 × 28 cm) ID is uncertain

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Indigofera tinctoria

Baptisia australis

Baptisia australis var. minor
Common Name

Indigo

Blue False Indigo

Blue False Indigo
Plant Shrub, to 6' (1.8 m) high. 3-5' (1-1.5 m) high, about 20-39" (50-99 cm) around. 18-24" (45-60 cm) high.
Flowers Pink/violet flower clusters, each flower ½" (1.3 cm). Light blue to dark purple. Lavendar-blue.
Leaves Pairs of opposite, rounded leaves on thin, vinelike branches. Leaflets about ¾" (1.9 cm) long. 1-1½" (2.5-3.8 cm) long, green, bluish green, or grayish green, in groups of 3. Bluish-green, in groups of 3.
Fruit Clusters of bean pods, each 2" (5 cm) long. ⅞-3" (2.5-7.5 cm) × ⅜-⅞" (1.2-2.5 cm), bluish-black. ¾-1¾" (2-5 cm) long, brownish-black.
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 3-8

USDA Zones: 3-8
Habitats   Rich woods, thickets, meadows, stream banks  
Type Wild Wild Wild

 

 
Baptisia tinctoria
Common Name

Wild Indigo
Plant 2-3’ in height and width
Flowers Yellow to cream, in spikes 1 1/2-3” long
Leaves Silver green, groups of 3 leaves
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 3-9
Habitats Dry open woods and clearings.
Type Wild

 

Identification: This is a shrub up to 6' (1.8 m) high, with pink/violet flower clusters composed of ½" (1.3 cm) flowers. The fruits, up to 2" (5 cm) long, look a bit like small string beans. The plant does not resemble false indigo.

Indigofera tinctoria (Indigo, True Indigo)

From Taubert, Paul Hermann Wilhelm (1862-1897); Engelmann (ed.), Die Natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien, 1891, p. Vol. III, 3

Online References:

Indigofera tinctoria on Wikipedia

Indigofera tinctoria on the Encyclopedia of Life

Indigofera tinctoria in Flora of Zimbabwe

Indigofera tinctoria on eFloras

Indigofera tinctoria description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Range:

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