False indigo — ORCA & Cypress Bend Community Preserve

False indigo, bastard indigo, bastard false indigo, and leadplant are among the many common names for Amorpha fruticosa, a plant found in nearly every state — and throughout Florida — in moist places.  We saw this plant in flower when we visited Cypress Bend Community Preserve on 5-5-2018.

The genus name, Amorpha (think amorphous), means without a definite form, and the species name, fruticosa, means somewhat shrubby.

Is this plant found at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA)?  Yes, it is, and it is shown below in the moist middle of the return portion of the Hammock Loop trail with air potato vine (Dioscorea bulbifera), unfortunately, growing next to it.
What makes false indigo so special is its floral display in mid-spring.  At this time, its crown is literally covered with 2-3″ flower spikes.  Each bloom is a deep purple in color, and the bright golden orange anthers contrast dramatically with the purple floral tubes.

False indigo is an excellent butterfly nectar plant and also attracts bees and other pollinators.  It is a larval food source for two butterflies:  the silver spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus) and southern dogface (Zerene cesonia).

A member of the pea family (Fabaceae), false indigo makes an excellent landscape plant for sunny or shady (think ORCA mesic hammock) places that are somewhat moist.  This versatile plant will thrive on the edge of a stormwater pond or near a downspout.

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