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Indigofera heterantha Wall, ex Brandis (1874)

Modern name

Indigofera heterantha Brandis


I. gerardiana Wall, ex Baker (1876); I. dosua Lindl., not D. Don

A deciduous shrub with downy, slightly-ribbed branches. At Kew, where it is almost invariably cut back to the ground each winter, it sends up a dense thicket of erect, scarcely branched shoots 2 to 4 ft high, clothed from top to bottom with leaves. Where the climate is milder the shoots survive, and it then becomes a much-branched shrub, perhaps 6 or 8 ft high. On a wall at Kew it has reached a height of 10 ft. Leaves pinnate, 2 to 4 in. long, composed of thirteen to twenty-one leaflets; leaflets 38 to 58 in. long, obovate or oval, clothed with grey appressed hairs on both sides, the apex notched or rounded and having a short bristle-like tip. Racemes produced from the leaf-axils in succession from below upwards, on the terminal part of the shoot. They are 3 to 5 in. long, bearing short-stalked, pea-shaped flowers 12 in. long, rosy purple, two dozen or more on each raceme. Calyx downy, with lance-shaped lobes. Pods deflexed when ripe, 112 to 2 in. long, 18 in. wide, cylindric, six- to ten-seeded.

Native of the north-western Himalaya. Commencing to blossom about the end of June, and continuing until the end of September, having also foliage of great beauty and luxuriance, this is one of the most ornamental of late-flowering shrubs. It has the disadvantage of starting late into growth, and it is not until June that the stools become well furnished. For this reason it is not suitable for planting alone in masses. It likes abundant sunshine, and does not flower so freely in dull seasons.

This species is better known as I. gerardiana. This name, and I. heterantha, appear without description in Wallich’s Catalogue, and it was the latter that was first validated.



Other species in the genus