Bengal Indigo
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Bengal Indigo
P Naturalized Photo: Ashutosh Sharma
Common name: Bengal Indigo, Java indigo, Natal indigo
Botanical name: Indigofera arrecta    Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)
Synonyms: Indigofera kisantuensis, Indigofera scopa, Indigofera madagascariensis

Bengal Indigo is an erect, woody, large shrub up to 3 m tall. Leaves are arranged spirally, imparipinnate; stipules subulate-bristly, 2-9 mm long; leaf-stalk up to 1.5 cm long, pulvinate; axis up to 6 cm long, strigulose; leaflets 7-21, narrowly elliptical-oblong, up to 2 cm x 0.7 cm, usually hairless above and strigulose below. Inflorescence is a many-flowered raceme in leaf-axils, up to 5 cm long but usually much shorter, often stalkless. Flowers are bisexual, zygomorphic; flower-stalk up to 1 mm long, strongly reflexed in fruit; sepal-cup up to 1.5 mm long, the tube about as long as the 5 triangular sepals, brownish strigulose. Flowers are up to 5 mm long, pinkish or reddish, brown strigulose outside, standard longer than wide, narrowed gradually to the base, keel laterally spurred, wings with very short claws; stamens are 10, 3-4 mm long, with long style. Fruit is a linear pod 1.2-2.5 cm long and up to 2 mm wide, straight, slightly tetragonal, brown when ripe, 4-8-seeded. Bengal Indigo is native to Sub‑Saharan Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and Madagascar, and has been introduced to the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, some of the islands of Indonesia, the Philippines, and Queensland in Australia.

Identification credit: Ashutosh Sharma Photographed in Bengaluru Outskirts, Karnataka.

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