Amorpha fruticosa (False Indigo)

Plant Info
Also known as: Desert False Indigo, Bastard Indigo
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist; along shores, edges of woods
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:3 to 12 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in spike clusters to 6 inches long and ½ to 1 inch in diameter. Individual flowers are about ¼ inch long, tubular looking, deep purple to reddish brown with 10 protruding yellow-orange tipped stamens. The “tube” is actually a single petal rolled up to look like a tube. One plant has numerous spikes, with 1 to a few spikes at the end of branching stems.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in groups of 11 to 25, alternately attached at the main stem. Leaflets are generally oval, rounded at both ends, to 1½ inch long and ¾ inch wide, and toothless. They can be hairless or hairy to varying degrees. The main stem is woody and hairless.


False Indigo is technically a shrub. It is native to the midwest but has been cultivated in other parts of the country. The flowers look very similar to Lead Plant, but its leaflets are smaller, more numerous and compact, it grows in dry habitats and only grows to a maximum 3 feet tall.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Vadnais/Snail Lake Regional Park, Shoreview, MN. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin county.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: linda - Racine Prairie and Pin Oak SNA
on: 2015-08-22 09:47:49

Found this shrub at these SNAs in June 2015.

Posted by: Mark
on: 2016-06-12 15:13:31

Stearns County, MN on the Mississippi River. The shrubs are growing at the waters edge. The area is shaded by large River Maple. I've lived at this spot on the river for many years and this is the first time I've seen this plant. Photos available.

Posted by: Jillian F - Fork 30, 32 in Marshall County close to Red River
on: 2018-06-08 11:16:19

Found on land near the Red River in Marshall county. Also spotted in other parts of Fork township.

Posted by: Megan Howell - Murray County
on: 2019-06-15 07:58:29

Found on private land in Murray County. Lake Sarah and Skandia townships.

Posted by: HvHughes - Marshall County
on: 2019-06-17 16:45:50

flowering all over the ditches right now!

Posted by: luciearl - lake shore
on: 2020-01-05 21:11:53

This grows near the stream at Fritz Loven Park. It was loaded with various bees this summer.

Posted by: Amy Kvalseth - Lake Minnetonka
on: 2020-08-30 20:44:40

I believe this is the plant I have seen growing along the shore of Lake Minnetonka near Minnetrista. It grows taller than 3 feet, however. More like 6.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2020-08-31 18:06:57

Amy, the Plant Info table at the top of the page says A. fruticosa grows up to 12 feet tall. You misread the Notes where it mentions 3 feet; it was referring to the related Amorpha nana.

Posted by: Fred Crea - Minneapolis along Mississippi River
on: 2023-06-06 20:38:28

There are several plants between the Franklin Ave. steps and Bridal Vail Falls. The area was recently flooded.

Posted by: Ima Gardener - Andy's Bark Park / Woodbury
on: 2023-06-16 20:57:41

The prairie fields have hundreds of blue and white plants. Quite beautiful.

Posted by: James W Luedtke - Floating bog in Lake Minnewashta, Carver County
on: 2023-06-27 20:01:06

Saw this while kayaking on June 27. Flowering appeared to be completed.

Posted by: Aidan - Stearns County
on: 2023-09-05 10:51:20

Seen at Quarry Park in St Cloud, only a handful of plants scattered sparsely in the dry grassy areas.

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