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California False Indigo Back to Plant Page
Amorpha californica

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About California False Indigo (Amorpha californica) Amorpha californica is a species of flowering plant in the Fabaceae (Legume) family known by the common name California False Indigo. It is native to California, Arizona, and northern Baja California, where it grows in chaparral and woodland habitat. This is a hairy, thornless shrub with leaves made up of spiny, oval-shaped leaflets each tipped with a resin gland. The scattered flower clusters are spike-like racemes of flowers, each flower with a single purple petal and ten protruding stamens. The fruit is a legume pod containing usually a single seed. There are two recognized Varieties: Var. californica is the more common; var. napensis is a rare plant found only in a few counties north of San Francisco. This species is somewhat neater in appearance than its close cousin, Amorpha fruticosa, which is more common in San Diego, Orange and Riverside Counties. The Amorpha genus is host to the California Dogface Butterfly, the official state butterfly. This species is said to be somewhat difficult in cultivation and is more often used in restoration projects.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
10 ft (3 m)

Max. Width
6 ft (1.8 m)

Fragrant - Pleasant

Winter Deciduous

Flower Color

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Wooded, shrubby, or open slopes primarily in the Coast Ranges and Transverse Range below 7,500 ft.

Part Shade

Elevation ?
9' - 8222'

Annual Precip. ?
6.0" - 68.9"

Summer Precip. ?
0.15" - 2.89"

Coldest Month ?
32.5° F - 58.2° F

Hottest Month ?
59.0° F - 86.9° F

Humidity ?
0.43 vpd - 37.48 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates sand

Soil PH
6.0 - 8.0

Fast, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 0° F

Companion Plants
Use as an understory for Oaks (Quercus sp.), Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa), Madrone (Arbutus menziesii), Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens), Tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus), Bay Laurel (Umbellularia californica) and other trees. Companion shrubs can include Manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp.), Ceanothus sp., Ocean Spray (Holodiscus discolor), Currant/Gooseberry (Ribes sp.), and Snowberry (Symphoricarpos sp.)

Wildlife Attracted
Various insects, including butterflies, and hummingbirds

Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: Fresh seeds, no treatment; scarification may improve germination of stored seeds.

Common uses
Hedges, Deer Resistant, Butterfly Gardens

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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