False indigo is native through much of North America, and is also naturalized in Europe and
Asia. It prefers moist woods and stream banks.
Plants: Shrubs are deciduous, up to 16-20' (5-6 m) in height
and 33-39' (10-12 m) around. Lower stems are woody.
Leaves: Leaves are pinnately compound, with 8-35 leaflets per group.
The stems supporting the leaflets are light grayish green, with fine hairs.
Leaflets are green above, velvety below, ½-1½" (1.3-3.8 cm) × ½-1" (1.3-2.5 cm), generally oblong in shape.
The leaf margins are
often nearly parellel, rounding abruptly at the ends. Leaflet undersides have scattered, dark, irregularly
Flowers: Flowers appear in narrow, conical racemes 3-6" (7.6-15 cm)
long, in groups of 1 to 6. Each flower is ¼" (6.3 mm), tubular, purple to dark blue, with yellow stamens
and bright orange-yellow anthers. They appear from April-June.
Fruits: Dense groups of small fruits resembling tiny cucumbers,
each up to ⅜" (9.5 mm) long, yellow green, browning with age.
Blisterlike glands are visible under magnification. Each fruit has a sharp tip and contains 1-2 seeds.