Austral Indigo

Description

Common names

Austral Indigo, Hill Indigo, Native Indigo, Australian Indigo, New Holland Indigo.

Scientific names

Indigofera australis.

Family

Fabaceae.

Genus

Indigofera.

Name origin

Indigofera, neo-Latin for indigo-bearing. Australis, Latin for southern.

Rainfall

300mm+.

Growth rate

Fast.

Growth height

Up to 2.5m.

Presence in Australia

Widespread. Noted in most areas across region.

This specie has been identified in the following Australian states: Qld, NSW, ACT, Vic, Tas, SA, WA.

Habitat

Woodland and eucalypt forest. Commonly hilly areas.

Habit

Open erect spreading shrub to 2.5m high. Long slender stiff stems.

Site preference

Poor, shallow soil in semi or dappled shade. Tolerates moderately heavy frost and extended wet periods. Adapts to most well-drained acidic soils.

Characteristics

Palatable, nutritious legume, grazed severely by livestock.

Flowering

Mauve to purple (sometimes white), winter-spring. Pea-like.

Seed collection

Mid Nov to early Feb. Monitor closely as seeds shed immediately or very soon after maturity. Ensure collection by securing nylon stockings or paper bags to fruiting branches after flowering.

Propagation

From scarified seed or cuttings. Pour boiling or very hot water over seeds and soak until water cools. Dry to prevent rotting and sow. Germination takes 3-4 weeks. Suitable for direct seeding in pots (2-3 seeds per pot).

Regeneration

From seed, particularly after fire. Establishes readily when direct seeded.

Shade and shelter

Useful low-level cover in windbreaks.

Land protection

Legume - improves soil fertility by "fixing" nitrogen.

Wildlife

Excellent habitat. Flowers are a pollen and nectar source for many native insects, including bees and wasps. Also food for butterfly caterpillars.

Koori

Roots hammered and placed in salt or fresh water to poison fish.

Ornamental

Attractive ornamental, particularly when flowering. Plant in groups for best effect. Tip prune from when young to promote bushiness and prevent straggliness. Cut dead or straggly branches at base. Coppices.

Other

Leaves and stems produce yellow-fawn dye with alum as mordant.