false indigo
Amorpha fruticosa L.
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAME: LSU plant, lead plant
  • LEAVES: alternate, deciduous, odd pinnately-compound; 11-39 leaflets, each about 1.5" x 0.5"; short petiolules, petioles 1-2 inches; green upper surfaces, sparsely pubescent below; leaflets oblong-elliptic and round at both ends, margins entire; leavesflets glabrous, sometimes glandular punctate below
  • FLOWER: inflorescence of dense spike-like racemes or a panicles, 3-6 inches long, terminating shoots of the season; flowers small (< 0.5”) purple, zygomorphic, with only the standard represented which is purple; anthers gold-orange, conspicuous
  • FRUIT: short indehiscent two-seeded legumes to ca. 0.5” long;, legume surfaces with few to many resinous glands
  • TWIGS: unarmed
  • BARK: brown to gray; sparingly pubescent; rounded lenticels
  • FORM: mult-stemmed shrub; 18' tall; bushy
  • HABITAT: margins of swamps and rivers; riparian forests; lake and pond shores; floodplains
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative Wetland (FACW): Usually occurs in wetlands, but may occur in non-wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE:  most of the US; Eastern Canada. [MAP]  
  • USES: cultivated as an ornamental; used in butterfly gardens
  • WILDLIFE: good pollinator plant for bees and butterflies; browsed by whitetail deer, but not preferred; quail and a few other birds eat seeds
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. 1. unarmed shrub with pinnately-compound leaves; leaflets short-stalked and rounded at both ends
    2. dense terminal racemes of small flowers with a single purple petal and showy gold-orange anthers
    3. dense terminal racemes of small indehiscent two-seeded legumes; fruits with resinous glands