An attractive, evergreen, large shrub or small tree, Indigofera jucunda is a show stopper when in flower. With a multitude of clusters of small, pink and white flowers and soft form it brings a touch of femininity into the garden.
Family: FABACEAE (Pea family)
In the narrow sense, as the family has been split into 3, Caesalpiioideae and Mimosoideae are now independent families.
- Indigofera – bearing indigo, a blue dye that is obtained from several species of this genus.
- jucunda – from the Latin word jucundus, meaning pleasant or pleasing.
Common Names: River indigo, showy indigo (Eng), rivierverfbos, pronkverfbos (Afr), umsipane (Xho), and umnukambida (Zul).
SAF Number: 226.4
Form: A large shrub or small, graceful tree.
Size: 2 – 4 m (–7 m) by 2 – 3 m.
Small mauve/pink and white, pea-shaped flowers.
Borne in profusion on short racemes.
Plants in flower are very showy.
Colour: White and pink/mauve.
Flowering Months: Nov – Mar.
- Bluish green leaves are pinnately compound to 10 cm long.
- Leaflets are ovate to elliptical, 4 – 7 pairs and a terminal leaflet.
- Leaf base may be heart shaped, 3 – 5 veined at base.
Thorns: No thorns.
- Long (5 cm), narrow (.5 cm), cylindrical pods (Feb – Jul).
- The pods turn brown and when ripe they explosively split and twist spirally.
In the Garden:
- A showy shrub or small tree that deserves a spot of honour in all gardens.
- Indigofera jucunda can be used to great effect to soften a small courtyard.
- Can be used as a screen or in a mixed shrubbery.
- An ideal plant to provide a bit of height in narrow spaces.
- A wildlife friendly tree, attracting insects and birds.
- It is a good subject for a large pot or planter on a patio, provided it gets enough water.
- Indigofera jucunda should make a lovely bonsai subject.
- Flowers last well as cut flowers in a vase as part of a floral arrangement.
- Initially quick growing, up to 1 metre per year.
Soil Needs: Most soil types, rich garden soil for best results.
- A low maintenance plant.
- Feed with organic fertilizer and mulch with compost.
- May be pruned to shape if necessary.
- Protect young plants against the cold in winter.
Cold Hardiness: Hardy, but protect young plants.
Water Requirements: Requires regular water during summer.
Light Requirements: Full sun but will grow in partial shade.
Roots: The roots are not aggressive.
- Insect-eating birds are attracted to the insects that visit these trees.
- Indigofera species are known to be host to many butterfly’s larva.
Bees: Bees visit the flowers for nectar and pollen.
- The roots were used to treat intestinal worms.
Poisonous: Not poisonous.
Notes of interest:
- Plants were previously incorrectly sold as Indigofera cylindrica and then Indigofera fruticosa.
- Found in the EC and KZN.
- Endemic to South Africa.
- Savanna- bushveld and forest.
- Grows on rock outcrops and rocky hill slopes, often with other trees.