A Plant on The High Line That Caught My Eye

Last week I was sorting through some of my old photographs. I came across this one from a couple of years ago on the High Line in Manhattan. I had never seen this plant before so it grabbed my attention. It is called “false indigo” and the latin name is Amorpha fruticosa.

Amorpha fruticosa

After taking this picture, I swore that I would remember this plant and use it in the garden. To be honest, I totally forgot about it until coming across this photograph. I would like to use it this year but I am reading that it can be weedy. But I also read that it is native. So, it is an attractive, native weed that is showy enough to make the cut for one of the world’s most popular gardens, the High Line.

Amorpha fruticosa naturally grows along stream banks. It is in the legume family and has pinnately compound leaves like a black locust. If left unchecked, a shrub of false indigo could grow 12-15 feet tall. The roots of this plant are also nitrogen fixers.

I definitely would like to try growing Amorpha fruticosa because of these attractive, deep purple flowers, but feel that it should be in a location where I can keep a close eye on it. I just recall it being so striking and standing out among all of the other plantings on the High Line.

Have you ever grown Amorpha fruticosa? Do you like it and have you found it to be too weedy to keep in the garden?

Rodney

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rodney eason

Rodney Eason - Director of Horticulture and Plant Curator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, father of 4, husband to a Renaissance woman. I spent the first part of my life in North Carolina, the middle in Pennsylvania, and now I am determined to become a Mainer  while keeping my southern drawl. I consider the rhetorical question, "you're not from around here, are you?" a compliment. I love great gardens, beautiful plants, and inspiring architecture. Because of this, I am on a lifelong quest to find a garden that artistically combines beautiful plants while being centered around an evocative building. For me, this would be Beatrix Farrand's Dumbarton Oaks, with the plants of Lotusland and Chanticleer, around Fay Jones' Thorncrown Chapel. My wife and I are now making our new home and garden in a 130 year old New England house with a farmer's porch near the Damariscotta River in coastal Maine. When our kids get into college, we want to hike the Appalachian Trail as a family over a summer break. My likes (in random order): the smell of fresh basil and rosemary, bold foliage, India Pale Ale, good running shoes, Top Gear, the smell of New England in the fall (it reminds me a bit of English Leather, which my grandfather wore), and the sound of our family laughing together around the dinner table. I dream of one day owning an old Toyota 4X4 pick-up and seeing the Avett Brothers in concert.

1 Comment

  1. Jane Marie on January 8, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    The leaves in the photo are false indigo, the flowers are not. I don’t find it to be a problem as in weedy in Nebraska. It only gets to be about 5H x 6W. The cool blue green color of the plant is delightful. And I like the black seed pods that follow the early spring flowers. Besides the indigo blue flowered variety there are white, yellow, & violet. It quite a striking sculptural plant. If this size is too big there is also a dwarf version.

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