Indigofera pratensis

Distribution Map
Family: Fabaceae subfamily Faboideae
Distribution: Tropical areas of Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia, usually on sandy soils in eucalypt woodlands or grasslands.
Common Name: Forest indigo.
Derivation of Name: Indigofera; Neo-Latin for "bearing Indigo". Indigo is a purple dye originally obtained from some Indigofera species.
pratensis; from Latin, meaning of a meadow or grassland.
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

Indigofera is genus of about 700 species of which about 30 are found in Australia. The most commonly encountered species is I.australis which occurs in all Australian states.

Indigofera pratensis
Indigofera pratensis
Photo: Keith Townsend

Indigofera pratensis is a dwarf perennial herb, 0.3-0.6m high with a woody rootstock. The leaves are pinnate, about 10cm long, with 13-21 egg-shaped to narrowly oblong leaflets which are greenish and hairy. The new growth is pale and hairy.

Pea flower diagram   

The flowers are pea-shaped, bluish-purple to reddish, about 0.6cm across. Pea flowers consist of 4 petals; the "standard", the "keel" and two "wings" as shown in the diagram.

Although not widely cultivated, I.pratensis should be suited to tropical and subtropical gardens. In the wild it withstands bushfires, regrowing from the woody rootstock.

Propagation from seed is relatively easy following pre-treatment to break the physical dormancy provided by the impervious seed coat. Pre-treatment can be carried out by abrasion or by the use of boiling water (further details can be found in the Seed Propagation page). Cuttings should also be successful.

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