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Quail-Friendly Plants of the Midwest

False indigo

  • Amorpha fruticosa
  • indigobush

Woody

Summer coverEscape coverFood
The dense foliage of false indigo

The dense foliage and rapid growth of false indigo make for excellent summer thermal cover. This shrub occurs naturally around ponds and other moist areas in the western Midwest, and transplants well.

North Dakota State Soil Conservation Committee, USDA-NRCS Plants Database
 

False indigo leaves

False indigo leaves are pinnately compound, with leaflets 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches long.

North Dakota State Soil Conservation Committee, USDA-NRCS Plants Database

Spikes of flowers

False indigo has beautiful spikes of flowers 2-1/2 to 6 inches long, purplish blue, dotted with yellow stamens.

Jennifer Anderson, USDA-NRCS Plants Database

False indigo produces an abundance of seeds

False indigo produces an abundance of seeds and is an important food source for quail.

Scott Sudkamp, Missouri Department of Conservation

Seeds

Each pod contains a single seed. Seeds are shiny brown, curved at one end.

Steve Hurst, USDA-NRCS Plants Database

Description

The Latin name fruticosa refers to the shrubby character of this plant that occurs in moist ground in thickets along streams, rocky banks, pond borders and open wet woods. The leaves are pinnately compound. The dense flower clusters are deep purple to blue and produce numerous fruits that mature in late summer. The roots and stems of false indigo contain rotenone, which is used as an insecticide and fish poison and has shown some anticancer activity.

Bloom period

May to July

Use by bobwhites

Bobwhites readily eat the seeds of this member of the bean family. The dense, interlacing foliage provides excellent summer thermal and loafing cover and should be included in any bobwhite habitat management plan, particularly around ponds or other water impoundments.
 

 

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MP903 Quail-Friendly Plants of the Midwest | Page 16 | University of Missouri Extension