Botanical name: Indigofera suffruticosa Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)
Synonyms: Indigofera anil
West Indian Indigo is an erect, branched, half-woody shrub, growing to 1 m tall. The stems are sparsely covered with short hairs. The leaves are 5-8 cm long. The leaflets are 9-11, oblong to oblong-elliptic, 1-2 cm long, pale, and hairy beneath. The flowers are red, about 5 mm long, and borne on axillary and solitary racemes 2-3 cm long. The pods are numerous, crowded, reflexed, strongly curved, and 1-1.5 cm long, and contain 6-8 seeds. This species is one of the sources of natural indigo, and along with Indigifolera tinctoria, represents the chief commercial indigo. It is cultivated as green manure in Malaya and Java. It is used as a perennial cover crop for coffee. West Indian Indigo is a native of Tropical America, but widely naturalized in India.
Medicinal uses: In Brazil, West Indian Indigo is one of the reputed remedies for snake bites, and in the United States it is often applied to the stings of bees and other insects. In Mexico, the leaves as a cataplasm or in decoction are applied to the forehead of children with fever and to any painful area. The seeds in powder form are a cure for ulcers.
Identification credit: Dinesh Valke
The flower labeled West Indian Indigo is ...