Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.
Chinese indigo (Indigofera amblyantha) is a large, slightly rangy shrub with a very long flowering season. From late spring into early fall, it produces successive spikes of delicate, rose-pink flowers.
Its loose, airy habit blends perfectly with the naturalistic setting of the Wild Garden, where it stands next to a path running along the garden’s western edge. The first shot here is taken looking west towards the Hudson River, the second along the same path but looking south.
Also called pink indigo, it is native to China, which explains its other common name.
Although closely related to “true” indigo (Indigofera tinctoria), which was the natural source of indigo for centuries, this species is not used in dye production.
The indigos are in the pea and bean family (Fabaceae) and a close look at the flowers will show the similarity with those of related plants, such as the sweet pea, the black locust tree and wisteria—it’s a large and diverse family.