False Indigo Bush

False indigo bush (Amorpha fruticosa) is a member of the legume or pea family. It is native to Kentucky and much of the eastern U.S. The leaves look very similar to the leaves of black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) which is also in the pea family. False indigo bush typically grows 6-10 feet tall and has most of the foliage in the upper 1/3 – 2/3 of the plant.

False indigo bush is a host plant for the caterpillars of several butterflies and the flowers are worked by a variety of different bee species. Photo Credit: Аимаина хикари cc-0

In the wild, false indigo bush is typically found in sunny, wet to moist locations such as along creeks or in moist meadows. It can also be planted in garden settings, especially in rain gardens or other areas that tend to be wetter. In a landscape setting it can grow in soils with average moisture but may need watering during droughts.

False indigo bush produces clusters of deep purple flowers that bloom in May and June in Kentucky. The flowers are attractive to many different bee species including honey bees, some of the mining bees, and some of the sweat bees. False indigo bush is also a host plant for the caterpillars of the hoary edge, the gray hairstreak, the southern dogface, and the silver-spotted skipper.

If you are looking for a unique, native, small tree / tall bush to grow in a wet to moist area, this might be one to consider. Need a source for it? I have a few available through my nursery.

This article was part of Shannon’s original Kentucky Pollinators and Backyard Wildlife blog which evolved into the blog for Backyard Ecology.

Backyard Ecology: Exploring Nature in Your Backyard
Nature isn’t just “out there.” It’s all around us, including right outside our doors. Hi, my name is Shannon Trimboli, and I am the host of Backyard Ecology. I live in southcentral Kentucky and am a wildlife biologist, educator, author, beekeeper, and owner of a nursery specializing in plants for pollinators and wildlife conservation. I invite you to join me as we ignite our curiosity and natural wonder, explore our yards and communities, and improve our local pollinator and wildlife habitat. Learn more or subscribe to my email list at www.backyardecology.net.

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