Amorpha is a genus of plants in the pea family, Fabaceae. All the species are native to North America, from southern Canada, most of the United States (US), and northern Mexico. They are commonly known as false indigo. The name Amorpha means “deformed” or “without form” in Greek and was given because flowers of this genus only have one petal, unlike the usual “pea-shaped” flowers of the Faboideae subfamily. Amorpha is missing the wing and keel petals.[1]

Genus of legumes
For the moth, see Amorpha (moth).

Desert false indigo (Amorpha fruticosa)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Tribe: Amorpheae
Genus: Amorpha

16–49; see text

The desert false indigo or indigo bush (Amorpha fruticosa), is a shrub that grows from 3 m to 5 m tall. The species is considered a rare species in the US state of West Virginia and in the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario, but is considered an invasive plant in some areas of the northeastern and northwestern United States and in southeastern Canada, beyond its native range, and has also been introduced into Europe.

The lead plant (Amorpha canescens), a bushy shrub, is an important North American prairielegume. Lead plant is often associated with little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), a common prairie grass. Native Americans used the dried leaves of lead plant for pipe smoking and tea.

Amorpha species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Schinia lucens, which feeds exclusively on the genus.

Amorphol, a rotenoidbioside, can be isolated from plants of the genus Amorpha.[2]

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Amorpha comprises the following species:[3][4][5]

Flowers of Amorpha fruticosa
  • Amorpha apiculataWiggins
  • Amorpha californicaTorr. & A. Gray—California false indigo, mock locust
    • var. californicaTorr. & A. Gray
    • var. napensisJeps.
  • Amorpha canescensPursh—leadplant
  • Amorpha confusa(Wilbur) S.C.K. Straub, Sorrie & Weakley
  • Amorpha crenulataRydb.[6] (endangered)
  • Amorpha fruticosaL.—desert false indigo
  • Amorpha georgianaWilbur—Georgia false indigo
  • Amorpha glabraPoir.—mountain false indigo
  • Amorpha herbaceaWalter—clusterspike false indigo
    • var. herbaceaWalter
    • var. floridana(Rydb.) Wilbur
  • Amorpha laevigataTorr. & A. Gray—smooth false indigo
  • Amorpha nanaC. Fraser—dwarf false indigo
  • Amorpha nitensF.E. Boynton—shining false indigo
  • Amorpha ouachitensisWilbur—Ouachita false indigo
  • Amorpha paniculataTorr. & A. Gray—panicled false indigo
  • Amorpha roemerianaScheele—Roemer’s false indigo
  • Amorpha schweriniiC.K. Schneid.—Schwerin’s false indigo

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