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Hairy Indigo Indigofera hirsuta

Hairy Indigo is a non-native plant.  It originated in Tropical Africa and Asia and was introduced into Florida as a forage crop. Nowadays, it is found throughout the state along roadsides, vacant fields, and disturbed sites.

It is an erect or spreading annual plant growing to a height of 3-5 feet.  As its name suggests, the stems and leaves are covered with fine hair.  Each branched stem has 5-9 oblong leaflets, each 0.75-1.5 inches long. Many small, pea-like reddish-pink flowers develop in a cluster along a slender spike. The flowers, which bloom in the summer and fall, start blooming from the bottom and slowly moves up the spike.  The fruit develops as narrow green four-sided pods in a cluster.  The pods are about 1-inch long.  At maturity, the pods split releasing several small seeds.

All of the photos on this page were taken in Deep Creek in Charlotte County.  The upper left photo shows several flower spikes.  The spike on the left still has flowers blooming at the top and seed pods starting to form along the bottom.  The upper right photo shows a Cassius Blue butterfly sipping nectar.  The lower left photo is an enlarged image showing the tiny pea-like flowers.

The distribution maps for the Hairy Indigo are from the Plants Database of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).