In the past this species has often been confused with Indigofera coerulea and earlier cultivation reports for Indigofera articulata refer mostly to Indigofera coerulea[
Indigofera argentea L.
Indigofera glauca Lam.
Indigofera articulata is a shrub with branched stems growing 50 - 120cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and a dye. A source of 'indigo', one of the best known and most used of the plant dyes, this species used to be cultivated in the Islamic countries of north and northeast Africa, and was also introduced to the West Indies and grown there for indigo production[
Africa - Algeria, Egypt, Sudan to Somalia, Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Pakistan
Grassland, bushland, roadsides; at elevations from 1,350 - 2,700 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Indigoera 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.
We have seen no specific information for this species, but most members of the genus have 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 roots and leaves are bitter and tonic[
]. Used in the treatment of venereal diseases and asthma[
The seeds are anthelmintic[
The plant is a minor source of the blue dye 'indigo'[
]. The leaves and twigs do not actually contain indigo but 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[
Seed - it possess a hard seed-coat and must be scarified[
]. 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. Sowing is done either on seed-beds or directly into the field, 3 - 4 seeds per hole, 60 cm apart within rows and 45 - 60 cm between rows[
]. Germination takes about 4 days[
]. When seed-beds are used, seedlings are transplanted at 4 - 6 weeks[
Cuttings are made by dividing well-developed branches into pieces 30 cm long, which are kept for 2 - 3 days in a cool place before planting[
]. Cuttings, 2-3 per hole, start rooting by the second week[
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