False Indigo

Amorpha fruticosa

False Indigo Bush, Amorpha fruticosa, photo © by Michael Plagens

Photographed along Mesquite Wash, e. Maricopa Co., Arizona. May 2008.

FLOWERS: Numerous dark purple flowers in a long, dense spike. Ten, conspicuously-yellow stamens and just one dark purple petal.

LEAVES: Leaves are long-pinnately compound. The formula is odd, i.e. there is a terminal leaflet in addition to the pairs. Crushed foliage is malodorous.

SHRUB: Woody shrub with upper portions largely herbaceous. Upright stems often exceed two meters in height. May form thickets with many stems arising from ground level.

RANGE: In the Sonoran Desert in Arizona this plant is generally restricted to riparian corridors where there is partial shade and reliable moisture. Beyond the Sonoran Desert this plant ranges up in elevation all the way to the Ponderosa woodlands mostly in riparian habitats. North America.

FRUIT: Small, indehiscent bean pods with just a single bean.


Fabaceae -- Bean Family

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flowers of False Indigo Bush, Amorpha fruticosa, visited by an Azure Butterfly, Celastrina echo, photo © by Michael Plagens

Photographed along a sycamore-lined canyon on Pinal Peak, Gila Co., Arizona. June 2014. The butterfly is a Southwestern Azure, Celastrina echo.

More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 18 Dec. 2008,
updated 7 June 2014