Indigofera paucifolia Delile
Bremontiera ammoxylon burmannii DC.
Indigofera argentea Roxb.
Indigofera desmodioides Baker
Indigofera lotoides Lam.
Indigofera oblongifolia is an erect perennial plant with many branched stems that become more or less woody, especially near the base, and persist[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and a dye. It is occasionally cultivated, as a living fence in Sudan; for green manure in southern India; and as dye plant perhaps in Mali and Zimbabwe[
Africa - Mauritania to Egypt and Somalia, also in Angola; Arabian Peninsula, through Iran to Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka
Found especially near the coast, growing on edges of brackish places, streamsides, grassland, bushland, stony ground; sandy thickets, areas disturbed by human activity; at elevations up to 1,200 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Found on a variety of soils in the wild from black clays to sands[
]. Indigofera species generally grow best in a sunny position, preferring a well-drained but moist soil[
]. Many of the species will also succeed in drier conditions and in poor soils.
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria; these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.
The leaves are used as a substitute for Myrtus communis to treat skin rash and stomach pain[
The plant is viewed as an antidote for all kinds of poisons[
A decoction of the stem is used as a gargle in the treatment of mercurial salivation[
The root is boiled in milk and used as a purgative[
The plant is sometimes used as a green manure and also as a living fence[
The leaves are a source of the dye 'indigo'.
The leaves and twigs of Indigofera species do not actually contain indigo, but rather they contain colourless precursors that must be extracted and then processed in order to produce the indigo dye[
The harvested leafy branches are placed in a tank containing water to which some lime has been added, and are weighted down with planks[
]. After some hours of fermentation, during which enzymic hydrolysis leads to the formation of indoxyl, the liquid is drained off and then stirred continuously for several hours to stimulate oxidation of the indoxyl[
]. Afterwards the solution is left to rest and the insoluble indigo settles to the bottom as a bluish sludge[
]. The water is drained and after the indigo has dried, it is cut into cubes or made into balls[
To dye textiles, indigo is reduced to a soluble form by a fermentation process under alkaline conditions. In traditional preparations of the dye, various reducing agents such as molasses are used, together with coconut-milk, bananas and the leaves of Psidium guajava[
]. The alkalinity is maintained by adding lime. After the textile has been dipped into solution it turns blue when exposed to the air[
Like many species within the family Fabaceae, once they have been dried for storage the seeds of this species may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing[
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