Home   About Us   FAQ  
Searching   Image Use Plant Books
FloraFinder uses cookies only for correct operation. More info. Okay

Indigofera tinctoria L.

Indigo, true indigo

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFabalesLegumes (pea and bean families)
FamilyFabaceaeLegume family (peas and beans)
GenusIndigofera“Producing indigo”
Speciestinctoria"Used in dyeing" (from Stearn's Botanical Latin)

About plant names...

Indigo was the original source of the blue dye that colors most jeans. At a time when blue and purple dyes were rare, indigo's ability to be processed into many shades of blue and violet placed it in very high demand. The dye is not taken from the pale colored flowers, but processed from a substance called indican into the intense blue dye indigotin. Indigo is not native to North America, but has become naturalized. It is called true indigo because an unrelated plant, false indigo, was sometimes used as an inferior substitute. See e.g. yellow false indigo.

Real indigo is compared below with two varieties of blue false indigo, as well as yellow false indigo.


Indigofera tinctoria (indigo, true indigo)

ID is dubious because indigo apparently doesn't occur in AZ. · 5/22/2009 · Slide Rock State Park, Sedona, Ari­zona · ≈ 17 × 11″ (43 × 28 cm) ID is uncertain

  You are here
Indigofera tinctoria

Baptisia australis

Baptisia tinctoria
Common Name


blue false indigo

wild indigo
Plant Shrub, to 6′ (1.8 m) high. 3-5′ (1-1.5 m) high, about 1½-3′ (50-99 cm) around. 2-3' in height and width
Flowers Pink/violet flower clusters, each flower ½″ (1.3 cm). Light blue to dark purple. Yellow to cream, in spikes 1 1/2-3" long
Leaves Pairs of opposite, rounded leaves on thin, vinelike branches. Leaflets about ¾″ (1.9 cm) long. 1-1½″ (2.5-3.8 cm) long, green, bluish green, or grayish green, in groups of 3. Silver green, groups of 3 leaves
Fruit Clusters of bean pods, each 2″ (5 cm) long. ⅞-3″ (2.5-7.5 cm) × ⅜-⅞″ (1.2-2.5 cm), bluish-black.  
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 3-8

USDA Zones: 3-9
Habitats   Rich woods, thickets, meadows, stream banks Dry open woods and clearings.
Type Wild Wild Wild


Identification: This is a shrub up to 6′ (1.8 m) high, with pink/violet flower clusters composed of ½″ (1.3 cm) flowers. The fruits, up to 2″ (5 cm) long, look a bit like small string beans. The plant does not resemble false indigo.

Indigofera tinctoria (indigo, true indigo)

From Taubert, Paul Hermann Wilhelm (1862-1897); Engelmann (ed.), Die Natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien, 1891, p. Vol. III, 3

Online References:


The Encyclopedia of Life

in Flora of Zimbabwe


Indigofera sumatrana Gaertn.


Indigofera tinctoria description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Sep 2020.

© FloraFinder.org. All rights reserved.



About this map...