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Indigofera is a large genus of over 750 species[3] of flowering plants belonging to the pea family Fabaceae. They are widely distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world.[3][2]


Indigofera is a varied genus that has shown unique characteristics making it an interesting candidate as a potential perennial crop. Specifically, there is diverse variation among species with a number of unique characteristics. Some examples of this diversity include differences in pericarp thickness, fruit type, and flowering morphology. The unique characteristics it has displayed include potential for mixed smallholder systems with at least one other species and a resilience that allows for constant nitrogen uptake despite varying conditions.


Species of Indigofera are mostly shrubs, though some are small trees or herbaceous perennials or annuals. The branches are covered with silky hairs. Most of them have pinnate leaves made of three foliolates with short petioles.[3][4]: 341 

Small flowers grow in the leaf axils from long peduncles or spikes, their petals come in hues of red or purple, but there are a few greenish-white and yellow-flowered species.[4]: 341  Indigofera flowers have open carpels, their organ primordial is often formed at deeper layers than other eudicots.[5] This variety could have significant implications on its role in an actual perennial polyculture. For example, different flowering morphologies could be artificially selected for in varying directions in order to better fit in different environmental conditions and with different populations of other plants.


The fruit is a long, cylindrical legume pod of varying size and shape.[3][4]: 341 

The types of fruit produced by different species of Indigofera can also be divided into broad categories that again show great variation. The three basic types of fruit categories can be separated by their curvature including straight, slightly curved, and falcate (sickle-shaped). In addition, several of the species including Indigofera microcarpa, Indigofera suffruticosa, and Indigofera enneaphylla have shown delayed dehiscence (maturing) of fruits[6] This variation could again allow for artificial selection of the most abundant and nutritious fruit types and shapes.

Another way to categorize Indigofera is by its pericarp thickness. The pericarp (the tissue from the ovary that surrounds the seeds) can be categorized as type I, type II, and type III with type I having the thinnest pericarp and fewest layers of schlerenchymatous (stiff) tissue and type III having the thickest pericarp and most schlerenchymatous layers. Despite the previous examples of delayed dehiscence, most fruits of this genus show normal explosive dehiscence to disperse seeds.[7] Similar to fruit shape, the variation in fruit sizes allows for the thickest and most bountiful fruits to be selected.


Indigo dye

Several species, especially Indigofera tinctoria and Indigofera suffruticosa, are used to produce the dye indigo. Scraps of Indigo-dyed fabric likely dyed with plants from the genus Indigofera discovered at Huaca Prieta predate Egyptian indigo-dyed fabrics by more than 1,500 years.[8] Colonial planters in the Caribbean grew indigo and transplanted its cultivation when they settled in the colony of South Carolina and North Carolina where people of the Tuscarora confederacy adopted the dyeing process for head wraps and clothing. Exports of the crop did not expand until the mid-to late 18th century. When Eliza Lucas Pinckney and enslaved Africans successfully cultivated new strains near Charleston it became the second most important cash crop in the colony (after rice) before the American Revolution. It comprised more than one-third of all exports in value.

The chemical aniline, from which many important dyes are derived, was first synthesized from Indigofera suffruticosa (syn. Indigofera anil, whence the name aniline).

In Indonesia, the Sundanese use Indigofera tinctoria (known locally as tarum or nila) as dye for batik. Marco Polo was the first to report on the preparation of indigo in India. Indigo was quite often used in European easel painting during the Middle Ages.[9][10]


Indigofera comprises the following species:[11][3][12][13][14]

Palaeotropical clade

Pantropical clade

Cape clade

Tethyan clade


Species names with uncertain taxonomic status

The status of the following species is unresolved:[13][14]

Indigofera psammophila
Indigofera sylvatica
  • Indigofera abyssinica Hochst. ex Baker
  • Indigofera adaochengensis Y.Y. Fang & C.Z. Zheng
  • Indigofera adenophylla Graham
  • Indigofera adenotricha Peter G.Wilson
  • Indigofera adesmiaefolia A. Gray
  • Indigofera adonensis E.Mey.
  • Indigofera aeruginis Schweinf.
  • Indigofera agowensis Hochst. ex Baker
  • Indigofera alata Schweinf.
  • Indigofera alba Gouault
  • Indigofera amaliae Domin
  • Indigofera angulata Lindl.
  • Indigofera angulata Rottler ex Spreng.
  • Indigofera aphylla Breiter
  • Indigofera arborescens Zuccagni
  • Indigofera arghawan Royle
  • Indigofera argyrea Chiov.
  • Indigofera armata Wall.
  • Indigofera ascendens Walp.
  • Indigofera astragaloides Welw. ex Romariz
  • Indigofera athrophylla Eckl. & Zeyh.
  • Indigofera axillaris E.Mey.
  • Indigofera bagshawei Baker f.
  • Indigofera baoulensis A.Chev.
  • Indigofera barbata Desv.
  • Indigofera barcensis Chiov.
  • Indigofera bequaerti De Wild.
  • Indigofera berteroana Spreng.
  • Indigofera bertolonii Steud.
  • Indigofera biflora Roth
  • Indigofera bilabiata Loisel. ex Drapiez
  • Indigofera boylei Hort. ex Vilmorin's
  • Indigofera brachycarpa Graham
  • Indigofera brachyodon Domin
  • Indigofera brachyphylla Al-Turki
  • Indigofera brachypoda Steud. ex A.Rich.
  • Indigofera brevipes (S. Watson) Rydb.
  • Indigofera bufalina Lour.
  • Indigofera caesia Zipp. ex Span.
  • Indigofera caespitosa Wight
  • Indigofera calva E.Mey.
  • Indigofera carlesii Craib
  • Indigofera ceciliae N.E.Br.
  • Indigofera celebica Miq.
  • Indigofera centrota Eckl. & Zeyh.
  • Indigofera chitralensis Sanjappa
  • Indigofera cinericolor F.Muell.
  • Indigofera clitorioides G.Don
  • Indigofera colorata Roxb. ex Wight & Arn.
  • Indigofera coluteifolia Jaub. & Spach
  • Indigofera condensata De Wild.
  • Indigofera conradsii Baker f.
  • Indigofera constricta Rydb.
  • Indigofera cornezuelo Moc. & Sessé ex DC.
  • Indigofera cornuligera Peter G.Wilson & Rowe
  • Indigofera coronillaefolia A. Cunn. ex Benth.
  • Indigofera coronillaefolia hort.
  • Indigofera crassisiliqua Steud.
  • Indigofera dalzelliana (Kuntze) Peter G.Wilson
  • Indigofera dalzielii Hutch.
  • Indigofera debilis Graham
  • Indigofera decumbens Hill
  • Indigofera deginensis Sanjappa
  • Indigofera dequinensis Sanjappa
  • Indigofera dewevrei Micheli
  • Indigofera diffusa Desv.
  • Indigofera dimorphophylla Schinz
  • Indigofera disjuncta J. B. Gillett
  • Indigofera dodecaphylla Ficalho & Hiern
  • Indigofera dorycnium Fenzl
  • Indigofera dosycnium Fenzl
  • Indigofera dubia Steud.
  • Indigofera dumosa E.Mey.
  • Indigofera elachantha Peter G.Wilson & Rowe
  • Indigofera elatior Carrière
  • Indigofera elegans Schumach. & Thonn.
  • Indigofera ellenbeckii Baker f.
  • Indigofera elskensii Baker f.
  • Indigofera enonensis E.Mey.
  • Indigofera erectifructa Y.Endo, H.Ohashi & Madulid
  • Indigofera erythrantha Hochst. ex Baker
  • Indigofera erythrogrammoides De Wild.
  • Indigofera esquirolii H. Lév.
  • Indigofera faberi Craib
  • Indigofera flavovirens R.E.Fr.
  • Indigofera flexuosa Eckl. & Zeyh.
  • Indigofera flexuosa Graham
  • Indigofera florida E.Mey.
  • Indigofera foliolosa Graham
  • Indigofera formosana Matsum.
  • Indigofera franchetii X.F.Gao & Schrire
  • Indigofera frumentacea Roxb. ex Wight & Arn.
  • Indigofera fruticulosa Walp.
  • Indigofera fuzi Sieb. ex Miq.
  • Indigofera gilletii De Wild. & T.Durand
  • Indigofera glauca Lam.
  • Indigofera glauca Perr. ex DC.
  • Indigofera grahamiana Steud.
  • Indigofera grandifoliola Carrière
  • Indigofera graveolens Schrad.
  • Indigofera griquana Schltr. ex Zahlbr.
  • Indigofera guineensis Schumach. & Thonn.
  • Indigofera haematica Peter G.Wilson
  • Indigofera hainanensis H.T.Tsai & T.T.Yü
  • Indigofera heptaphylla Hiern
  • Indigofera hislopii Baker f.
  • Indigofera hockii De Wild. & Baker f.
  • Indigofera hookeriana Meisn.
  • Indigofera hover Forssk.
  • Indigofera inconspicua Domin
  • Indigofera iwafusi Sieb. ex Lavallee
  • Indigofera jaubertiana Schweinf.
  • Indigofera jirahulia Buch.-Ham.
  • Indigofera juncea Decne.
  • Indigofera karongensis Baker
  • Indigofera kerensis Chiov.
  • Indigofera kisantuensis De Wild. & T.Durand
  • Indigofera kotoensis Hayata
  • Indigofera latibracteata Harms
  • Indigofera latipinna I.M.Johnst.
  • Indigofera laxeracemosa Baker f.
  • Indigofera leptocaulis Eckl. & Zeyh.
  • Indigofera leptophylla E.Mey.
  • Indigofera lignosa De Wild.
  • Indigofera limifolia Benth.
  • Indigofera lindleyana Spreng. ex Steud.
  • Indigofera linearis DC.
  • Indigofera linearis Guill. & Perr.
  • Indigofera litoralis Chun & T.C. Chen
  • Indigofera liukiuennsis Makino & Nemoto
  • Indigofera lonchocarpifolia Baker
  • Indigofera longebarbata Engl.
  • Indigofera longepedicellata J. B. Gillett
  • Indigofera longeracemosa Boivin ex Baill.
  • Indigofera longibractea J.M.Black
  • Indigofera lupulina Baker
  • Indigofera machaerocarpa Fenzl ex Baker
  • Indigofera macroptera hort. ex Lavallée
  • Indigofera macrostachys Vent.
  • Indigofera mangokyensis R. Vig.
  • Indigofera marginata Walp.
  • Indigofera masukuensis Baker
  • Indigofera mckinlayi F.Muell.
  • Indigofera mearnsi Standl.
  • Indigofera megaphylla X.F.Gao
  • Indigofera melanotricha Steud. ex A.Rich.
  • Indigofera melolobioides Benth. ex Harv.
  • Indigofera microphylla Lam.
  • Indigofera microstachya C.Presl
  • Indigofera minutiflora Hochst. ex Chiov.
  • Indigofera minutiflora Walp.
  • Indigofera moeroensis De Wild.
  • Indigofera multijuga Baker
  • Indigofera mutisii (Kunth) Spreng.
  • Indigofera nematopoda Baker f.
  • Indigofera neoarborea Hu ex F.T. Wang & Tang
  • Indigofera noldeae Rossbach
  • Indigofera nuda G.Don
  • Indigofera nyikensis Baker
  • Indigofera oligantha Harms ex Baker f.
  • Indigofera oligosperma DC.
  • Indigofera orixensis Roxb. ex Wight & Arn.
  • Indigofera oroboides E.Mey.
  • Indigofera oxyrachis Peter G.Wilson
  • Indigofera paludosa Lepr. ex Guill. & Perr.
  • Indigofera palustris Vatke
  • Indigofera perrottetii DC.
  • Indigofera petraea Peter G.Wilson & Rowe
  • Indigofera pilifera Peter G.Wilson & Rowe
  • Indigofera platyspira J.B.Gillett ex Thulin & M.G.Gilbert
  • Indigofera plumosa Spreng.
  • Indigofera polyclada Peter G.Wilson & Rowe
  • Indigofera polysperma De Wild. & T.Durand
  • Indigofera pratensis var. coriacea Domin
  • Indigofera preladoi Harms
  • Indigofera pretoriana Harms
  • Indigofera procumbens Torre
  • Indigofera propinqua Hochst. ex Chiov.
  • Indigofera psammophila Peter G.Wilson
  • Indigofera pseudoheterantha X.F.Gao & Schrire
  • Indigofera pseudomoniliformis Schrire
  • Indigofera purpurea Page ex Steud.
  • Indigofera quadrangularis Graham
  • Indigofera racemosa L.
  • Indigofera rarifolia Steud.
  • Indigofera rechodes Eckl. & Zeyh.
  • Indigofera reflexa E.Mey.
  • Indigofera rhechodes Walp.
  • Indigofera rhodosantha Zipp. ex Miq.
  • Indigofera rigescens E.Mey.
  • Indigofera roylei Koehne
  • Indigofera roylii Hort. ex Dippel
  • Indigofera rubromarginata Thulin
  • Indigofera rumphiensis Schrire
  • Indigofera rupestris Eckl. & Zeyh.
  • Indigofera rupicola Peter G.Wilson & Rowe
  • Indigofera sabulicola Benth.
  • Indigofera saltiana Steud.
  • Indigofera sangana Harms, in Schltr.
  • Indigofera scabrella Kazandj. & Peter G.Wilson
  • Indigofera schimperiana Hochst.
  • Indigofera scoparia Vahl ex DC.
  • Indigofera secunda E.Mey.
  • Indigofera sericea Benth. ex Baker
  • Indigofera sericea L.
  • Indigofera sericea Thunb. ex Harv.
  • Indigofera sericophylla Franch.
  • Indigofera setacea E.Mey.
  • Indigofera shipingensis X.F.Gao
  • Indigofera shirensis Taub. ex Baker f.
  • Indigofera signata Domin
  • Indigofera similis N.E.Br.
  • Indigofera sinuspersica Mozaff.
  • Indigofera socotrana Vierh.
  • Indigofera sofa Scott-Elliot
  • Indigofera solirimae Schrire
  • Indigofera somalensis Vatke
  • Indigofera sousae M.A.Exell
  • Indigofera sparsiflora Hochst. ex Baker
  • Indigofera speciosa Fraser ex Hook.
  • Indigofera spirocarpa Harms
  • Indigofera spoliata Hoffmanns.
  • Indigofera subincana N.E.Br.
  • Indigofera subquadriflora Hochst. ex Chiov.
  • Indigofera subtilis E.Mey.
  • Indigofera sylvatica Sieber ex Spreng.
  • Indigofera sylvestris Pamp.
  • Indigofera taiwaniana T.C.Huang & M.J.Wu
  • Indigofera tenella Schumach. & Thonn.
  • Indigofera tenella Vahl ex DC.
  • Indigofera tenuicaulis Klotzsch
  • Indigofera tenuisiliqua Schweinf.
  • Indigofera ternata Roxb. ex Wight & Arn.
  • Indigofera thirionni H.Lév.
  • Indigofera thonningii Schumach. & Thonn.
  • Indigofera tinctaria Hook.
  • Indigofera triflora Peter G.Wilson & Rowe
  • Indigofera trita var. nubica (J.B.Gillett) L.Boulos & Schrire
  • Indigofera tritoidea Baker
  • Indigofera ultima (Kuntze) Peter G.Wilson
  • Indigofera unifoliata Merr.
  • Indigofera urostachya Fenzl ex Baker
  • Indigofera viguieri Callm. & Labat
  • Indigofera villosa Berg. ex Walp.
  • Indigofera wannanii Peter G.Wilson
  • Indigofera wentzeliana Harms
  • Indigofera wynbergensis S.Moore
  • Indigofera zig-zag De Wild.


Indigofera species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the turnip moth (Agrotis segetum).

See also

  • Baptisia (false indigo)—a related genus.


  1. ^ Schrire BD. (2008). "The Madagascan genus Vaughania is reduced to synonymy under Indigofera (Leguminosae–Papilionoideae–Indigofereae)". Kew Bulletin. 63 (3): 477–479. doi:10.1007/s12225-008-9061-7. JSTOR 20649585. S2CID 43308210.
  2. ^ a b "Indigofera L." Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 2023. Retrieved 9 April 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e Gao X, Schrire BD. "Indigofera L." Flora of China. eFloras (Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA). Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Allen, O. N.; Allen, Ethel K. (1981). The Leguminosae, a source book of characteristics, uses, and nodulation. Madison, Wisconsin, USA: University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 341–351. ISBN 978-0-299-08400-4.
  5. ^ Paulino J, Groppo M, Teixeira S. (2011). "Floral developmental morphology of three Indigofera species (Leguminosae) and its systematic significance within Papilionoideae". Plant Systematics and Evolution. 292 (3): 165–176. doi:10.1007/s00606-010-0405-z. S2CID 23296068.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Leite V, Marquiafável F, Moraes D, Teixeira S. (2009). "Fruit anatomy of Neotropical species of Indigofera (Leguminosae, Papilionoideae) with functional and taxonomic implications". The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. 136 (2): 203–211. doi:10.3159/08-RA-106.1. S2CID 86776541.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Chauhan V, Pandey A. (2014). "Structure and evolution of the pod in Indigofera (Fabaceae) reveals a trend towards small thin indehiscent pods". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 176 (2): 260–276. doi:10.1111/boj.12203.
  8. ^ Splitstoser JC, Wouters J, Claro A. (2016). "Early pre-Hispanic use of indigo blue in Peru". Science Advances. Vol. 2, no. 9. American Association for the Advancement of Science. doi:10.1126/sciadv.1501623.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Douma M. "Pigments through the Ages—History—Indigo". Pigments through the Ages.
  10. ^ Buchanan R. (1999). A Weaver's Garden: Growing Plants for Natural Dyes and Fibers. Courier Corporation. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-486-40712-8. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  11. ^ Schrire BD, Lavin M, Barker NP, Forest F. (2009). "Phylogeny of the tribe Indigofereae (Leguminosae-Papilionoideae): Geographically structured more in succulent-rich and temperate settings than in grass-rich environments". Am J Bot. 96 (4): 816–52. doi:10.3732/ajb.0800185. PMID 21628237.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "ILDIS LegumeWeb entry for Indigofera". International Legume Database & Information Service. Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  13. ^ a b USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. "GRIN species records of Indigofera". Germplasm Resources Information Network—(GRIN) [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved 12 February 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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  15. ^ English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 497. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 19 December 2016 – via Korea Forest Service.
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Vaughania: Brief Summary

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Indigofera is a large genus of over 750 species of flowering plants belonging to the pea family Fabaceae. They are widely distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

Wikipedia authors and editors
visit source
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wikipedia EN