Sunday, August 1, 2010

Southern Indigobush - Amorpha herbacea

Southern indigobush (Amorpha herbacea) is far less used in landscape settings than its more colorful relative, false indigo (A. fruticosa).  It is found throughout much of the Florida peninsula and a few counties within the panhandle, besides states in the Southeast Coastal Plain.  This is a species most common to xeric flatwoods and sandhills. 
Southern indigobush is a deciduous shrub which grows more horizontally than vertically.  Mature specimens are rarely taller than 3-4 feet, but can be 5-6 feet across.  The compound leaflets appear in spring and are somewhat tomentose - giving them a grayish-green color.  The overall appearance of the long feathery foliage, purplish stems and gray-green leaves makes this plant attractive.  Like its close cousin, it too is a larval food source for the southern dogface sulphur and silver-spotted skipper butterflies.
Flowering occurs in late summer.  The long flower spikes are composed of a great many buds which open from bottom to top of the spike.  The individual flowers are a dull white in color. The contrasting orange anthers within each flower tube increases their attractiveness, however.  The flowers are excellent nectar sources for butterflies and other pollinators.
Southern indigobush has never been regularly propagated by commercial sources affiliated with AFNN - the Association of Florida Native Nurseries.  This is regrettable as this planty has much to offer.  Currently, we have a number of healthy seedlings in our nursery at Hawthorn Hill and we hope to continue propagating it in the future.  Ask us if you are interested.
Because of its stature and wide-spreading crown, give this plant plenty of room and don't expect to plant other wildflowers beneath it.  Use it in the middle to back sections of the planting bed.  Southern indigobush is exceptionally drought tolerant and can be grown in most landscape settings except areas that stay wet most months.  Give it plenty of sun for best growth, but it can also tolerate filtered or partial sun. 

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