Herbs & Plants

Dwarf Indigobush (Amorpha nana )

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Botanical Name: Amorpha nana
Family : Leguminosae /Fabaceae
Genus :   Amorpha
Kingdom: Plantae
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Species: A. nana
Synonyms :  Amorpha microphylla – Pursh.
Common Names :Fragrant false indigo,Dwarf indigo, Dwarf indigobush, Dwarf false indigo, Fragrant indigo-bush, Fragrant false indigo, Dwarf wild indigo

Habitat : Western N. America – Minnesota to the Rocky Mountains.   Dry prairies in S. Manitoba

Description :
Dwarf wild indigo is a smooth, much-branched decidious perennial from a woody rootcrown. Plants are usually about 12-18 inches tall. Leaves are found on the upper half of the plant and are about two inches long. Each leaf is comprised of 8-15 pairs of small, oval leaflets arranged along a midrib. Leaves alternate, compound (odd-pinnate) to 5-8 cm long, 25-31 leaflets, each 7-11 mm long and 2-4 mm wide, narrow to broadly oblong, tip rounded, emarginate or mucronate (sharp pointed).  Flowers perfect, small, purplish, one petal, in terminal spike-like clusters (racemes), 3.5-4.5 cm long.  Fruit a small reddish-brown pod, 4-5 mm long, one seed.Several dozen violet-to-purple flowers are crowded into spikes about one half inch wide that form in the upper branches. The tiny pods (legumes) are smooth and glandular.


Look for dwarf wild indigo during late June in native prairie on gentle slopes at middle or low elevations. Plants are usually more abundant where grazing is light or moderate.
It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)It can fix Nitrogen.

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Cultivation :
Prefers a light well-drained sandy soil in sun or light shade. Fairly wind-resistant. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -25c. Plants resent root disturbance, they should be planted out into their final positions whilst small. Plants are said to be immune to insect pests. Flowers are produced on the current season’s growth. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.

Seed – presoak for 12 hours in warm water and sow early spring in a greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 2 months at 20°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, June/July in a frame. High percentage. Cuttings of mature wood of the current seasons growth, autumn, in a sheltered position outdoors. Takes 12 months. Suckers in spring just before new growth begins. Layering in spring .

Medicinal Uses:
The plant has been used as a snuff in the treatment of catarrh.

Other Uses
Insecticide; Soil stabilization.

The resinous pustules on some species yield the insecticide ‘amorpha’. The plant has a strong spreading root system and this makes it useful for controlling soil erosion.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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