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Indigofera jucunda

Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)

Common names: River Indigo (E); Rivierverfbos (A);

Native to: Southern Africa
Shrub, Tree
This is a semi-deciduous or evergreen scrambling shrub or a small graceful tree which bears small pink or white sweetly scented flowers

Indigofera jucunda

SEMI-DECIDUOUS

FULL SUN

SEMI-SHADE

SEMI FROST HARDY

MEDIUM WATER REQUIREMENTS

FAST GROWER

ATTRACTS BIRDS

ATTRACTS INSECTS

FLOWER COLOUR:

AVERAGE SIZE:

3m x 2m

MAXIMUM SIZE:

4m x 3m
FLOWERING TIME:
J F M A M J J A S O N D
FRUITING TIME:
J F M A M J J A S O N D

Indigofera jucunda

DESCRIPTION

A dainty-looking small tree or shrub which bears sprays of showy pink flowers for a long period in summer. The smooth dark brown bark has distinct vertical markings. The branches provide perches for birds which visit the shrub to feed on the myriad of insects which are attracted to the plant. The leaves are mid green and semi-deciduous. The flowers are rich in nectar and attract butterflies and other pollinating insects. The flowers are followed by seed pods 3-4cm long that explode and twist to release the small dark brown seeds.

NATURAL HABITAT & DISTRIBUTION
Riverine forest, forest margins and grasslands.
WILDLIFE & ECOLOGICAL BENEFITS
Indigofera jacunda is rich in nectar and attract a host of pollinating insects including several butterfly species (pictured above is the Garden Acraea butterfly). In addition, it serves as a host plant to several species. It also attracts numerous other insects which entice many birds.
WATER REQUIREMENTS
Water moderately in summer.
MAINTENANCE
Trim branches back by a third in winter when the plant is dormant and it this will encourage bushy new growth with abundant flowers in summer.
LANDSCAPING USES
Ideal for small gardens and really effective planted in groves. It is also an excellent container plant.
GARDEN THEMES
Bushveld, Country, Forest, Formal, Woodland
FOLIAGE
Small compound leaves are borne on drooping to horizontal branches.
FRUIT
The seed pods are green and mature to brown. They split open and twist to release the seeds.
SEED
The seeds are round and amber-coloured, approximately 2mm in diameter.
PESTS & DISEASES
Seldom attacked by pests and diseases
CULTIVATION
Easy to propagate from seed. It is fast-growing and will flower within the first year.

36 Responses

  1. Hi Merchell

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Indigofera jacunda is not known to have an aggressive root system. I’d recommend a safe planting distance of 3m from a pool as it sheds leaves and flowers for long periods that can become a pain if you intend having a sparkling pool.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  2. Hi Sandra

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Indigofera jacunda prefers a well-drained soil so yes, all the amendments which you mention will help to achieve this.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  3. Hi, I live in George. I will be planting a small tree on 1 April. My soil is like clay. Should I add a little river sand when I plant as well as compost, bone meal and Peatmoss? I don’t want to kill it with kindness but really want to give it a chance.
    Would appreciate your advice.

    Kind regards,
    Sandra

  4. Hi Joeline

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Your branch is not likely to root.

    It may be best to stake your young tree to avoid another accident with your dogs.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  5. Hi. My dogs have knocked a small branch off my newly planted tree. Is there a chance this will root directly into soil or would it root in a jug of water…or not at all?
    Thanks for any and all advice.
    Best regards,
    Joeline

  6. Hi Alison

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    The green seeds are not yet mature so are unlikely to germinate. Wait a few more weeks for the pods to turn dark brown on the tree to get mature seeds. You’ll find that they may even start exploding and some may even explode in your hand as you pick them.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  7. Hi,
    My tree is covered in seeds. I’ve been waiting ages to pick the pods. It’s really been months. The pods are finally turning brown. However when i open them the seeds are still green inside. Would they still be viable if I dried them myself. Or must I wait till the seeds have turned black inside the pods.
    Regards
    Alison

  8. Hi

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Indigofera frutescens looks very similar but has a smaller growth form, reaching a height of approximately 2m (Indigofera jacunda can grow to 7m). Nurseries sometimes confuse the two species.

    Indigofera jacunda is fairly hardy so should be able to cope with your climate in Sea Point.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  9. Hi There
    How is this different to the Indigofera Frutescens, which i grew very successfully in two different gardens in Johannesburg?
    And will it cope with the salty sea air in Sea Point?

  10. Hi Stephanie

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    You definitely know a lot more than me about the use of plant pigments. Please do try using Indigofera jacunda and share your results.

    I’m not sure whether Indigofera erecta is commercially cultivated. However, some specialist indigenous nurseries in the Knysna/George area where it naturally occurs may have it.

    Interestingly, it’s the larval host plant for the rare and endemic Brenton Blue butterfly.

    All the best.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  11. Hi there, I love the blue & white effects of indigo dyeing and believe that one can use the local variety of the indigo plant, called indigofera erecta. Do you know whether this is correct and where I could find this plant in Cape Town?
    Otherwise would indigofera jacunda do the trick?
    Thanks

  12. Hi Sabrina

    Thanks for visiting our site.

    Yes, the River Indigo can be planted in sandy soil. It would may be best to plant it in a semi-protected area to shield it from strong winds. It may also need to be staked for the first two years to allow it to root securely to withstand windy conditions.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  13. Hi Glenice

    Absolutely love the website! Can the River Indigo be planted on sandy soil and in windy areas?

    Thanks so much, Sabrina

  14. Hi Karien

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    The root system of Indigofera jacunda is not aggressive.

    Most trees will suffer from transplant shock when relocated. As the River Indigo is so fast-growing, perhaps you could consider getting another one for your new property, leaving a legacy for the new home owners to appreciate?

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  15. Thank you for the useful information. Can you tell what type of root system it has? Is it aggresive and will it damage walls and paving? My River Indigo is about 2.8m tall. I planted it a big pot at first and transplanted it in the garden about a year ago. I am moving soon and wonder if I would be able to transplant it succesfully?

  16. Hi Lorne

    Thanks for your wonderful suggestion. It’s always interesting to hear about culinary uses of our indigenous plants.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  17. I use the wood sticks green or if it’s dry then I soak in water….to smoke chicken in my Weber. My recipe btw, rub chicken in olive oil, crushed garlic, some salt and black pepper. Way better flavour than white oak and pink birch wood! Will plant a forest once you’ve tried this. You can baste with a honey and mustard mix at the end but not even necessary!

  18. Hi Val

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    I’m not sure whether your seeds are still viable, but it’s worth giving them a chance.

    Put boiling water in a cup and soak them in this overnight.
    Plant out in a well-drained soil mix 5mm below the surface.
    Keep moist and if they are still viable you should see signs of growth in about 4 weeks.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  19. Hi Lizette

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    River indigos are generally trouble-free and very rewarding.

    Try adding compost and an organic fertiliser to give it an extra boost.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  20. Hi Lizette

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    River indigos are generally very rewarding and trouble free.

    As your soil is probably very sandy, consider adding extra compost to the soil around them and feed them with an organic fertiliser.

    All the best.
    Flourish!
    Glenice

  21. I planted 2 river indigo trees about 3 years ago ad it hasnt shown any growth. Still only a few branches , it does flower every now and then . I livee in nothern suburbs cape town . Wondering if it will grow here or what am i doing wrong

  22. Hi Gardinia

    Thanks for visiting our site.

    The river indigo truly is a marvelous shrub and the flowers last for a lot longer than most other plants.

    Enjoy the transformation as it grows.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  23. Hi fellow gardeners. I planted a river indigo shrub in April and must say I am very happy with its growth. It almost doubled in height and had its first flowers a while ago. I planted it in a 1 meter wide flowerbed in front of my stoep. My aim is to have a small tree that will provide dappled shadow onto my North facing very very hot stoep in summer yet allow more sun in winter. In years to come i will prune it to achieve a small tree shape and enjoy the goggos and birds that will visit my garden. Regards Gardinia

  24. Hi Cathy

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    In our experience, the Indigofera jacunda can withstand frost. However, as an extra precaution, I’d recommend protecting the trunk of a young plant in the first two winters. This can be done with a frost guard fabric or thatching grass wrapped around the lower 1-1.5m of the trunk.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  25. … flowers are followed by seed pods 3-4m long. This seems excessive. Perhaps it should read 3-4cm long.

  26. Hi Hans

    There isn’t any data on poisoning of livestock with this species. It is a member of the pea family, which comprises a large number of palatable plants, so it is unlikely to have any harmful properties.

    It self-seeds quite freely in gardens, but has not been classified as invasive.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  27. Any danger in grazing river indigo with smallstock eg sheep. Any danger of an invasive nature.
    Hans v Rooyen

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