Native to: Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, but widely naturalized in warm
Florida abundance and distribution:
Florida, except for the western panhandle.
An herb with branches
spreading flat on the ground and compound leaves with mostly 5 or 7 leaflets.
The most conspicuous feature is the salmon color of the tightly clustered
Potentially confusion species:
only indigos likely to be seen in south Florida that grow flat on the ground are
creeping indigo and the less common native Coastal Indigo (Indigofera
miniata). The technical
differences that distinguish these species are difficult to interpret. Specimens
from south Florida, however, look quite different – Coastal Indigo has small,
narrow leaflets covered with pale hairs lying flat that give the leaves a
grayish look and flowers and fruits that are much less crowded.
Other: Creeping indigo has
been used for erosion control and soil improvement, but planting in pasture is
avoided because the plant contains a toxic amino acid that causes liver damage
and abortion. This species has been
used to make indigo dye, but the larger
Indigofera tinctoria was normally used.
Contributed by: David Black, Ph.D.