Indigofera nigritana is an erect, branching annual plant with a central stem that becomes somewhat woody; it can grow 50 - 300cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and a chewstick.
Tropical Africa - Senegal to southern Sudan, south to Congo, DR Congo
Chiefly near rivers: gallery forest, flooded grounds; clayey sand; savannah; cultivations[
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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 leaves and young stems are antifungal, antiseptic, stimulant. They are used in the treatment of malaria, gastro-intestinal pain in children, dysentery, fatigue and skin diseases[
An aqueous acetone extract of the leaves and stems is rich in polyphenols and flavonoids and has been shown to be an effective antioxidant[
The twigs are used as chew sticks to keep the teeth clean and maintain oral hygiene[
Seed - it has a hard seedcoat and 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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