River locust / False indigo bush




Amorpha fruticosa

Neither an indigo nor a locust, this tall, elegant shrub to 8-12 ft. is actually a nitrogen-fixing legume. It has long, curving branches with delicate, almost tropical-looking leaves and show-stopping purple and orange flower stalks with a delicious fragrance like muscat or white grape. It doesn’t mind some shade and can thrive in poor soil.

Food uses

While not edible, river locust fixes nitrogen in the soil like other legumes and can make a good companion plant to a taller fruit tree.

Wildlife uses

This is an incredibly popular nectar plant, blooming for up to 3 weeks in May or June. When in flower, river locust is a magnet for all kinds of local bees and other pollinators, who flock to it like a tiny airport.

Landscape uses

River locust takes up some space in the landscape and has a lot of personality. It’s happy into partial shade, so it can make a great understory for a taller tree layer, or show off its feathery blue-green foliage as a statement plant at the edge of a garden or woodland border. It thrives in even poor soil, so it’s a good choice for a difficult spot – and since it adds nitrogen to soil, it can be a good companion plant. Try planting it several feet to the north of a valued fruit or nut tree.

Flowers grow on new wood, so if you’d like to control its size, you can prune it back hard in early spring before it leafs out.


Additional information


3-5 ft tall, width varies. Canes can grow up to 8+ feet long.

USDA Hardiness Zone


Sunlight needs

Full sun

Water & soil needs

Average soil and water requirements. Mulch well if your site is dry.


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