Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “bi-Weekly Plant of Interest”. This week we’ll be looking at a member of an attractive plant family, the Leguminosae – formerly Fabaceae (Pea/Legume family). Species of this family may take the form of either herbs or shrubs, and may be either annuals or perennials.
Indigofera dimidiata (Trifoliate Indigofera in English, musa-peloa-thaba or qoi-qoi in Sesotho) is a small perennial herb that obtains a height of around 100-300mm, depending on locality. It grows best in grasslands in proximity to streams, but will also grow at the base of sandstone cliffs where water collects at altitudes of up to 2600m A.S.L. Range extends from the Eastern Cape – Malawi.
The genus Indigofera was so named for the indigo dye obtained from several species of the genus. The species name dimidiata refers no doubt, to the diminutive size of the dwarven-sized herb. This particular specimen was photographed on the Titanic trail below Titanic rock.
The leaves of I. dimidiata are small, (approx 30X10mm), trifoliolate, grey-green and sparsely hairy and are purched apon stalks of between 10-20mm, arising from a stem of 100-250mm in length. Stipules of up to 4mm wide can be observed at the base of the petiole. The inflorescense is in terminal racemes and are very compact, whilst the tiny flowers (around 5mm) are light-deep pink, forming between Sept and Feb. Uses:
Used medicinally to treat fevers and also used in funeral ceremonies. I. dimidiata is said to bring about good fortune to the wearer who uses it as a charm.
This species of Indigofera may be small, but they still make for an attractive horticultural ornamental.
Flowers of this species are pollinated by bees, butterflies and long-tongue flies.
I. dimidiata is listed as of Least Concern by SANBI.
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Head ranger: Clarens Village Nature Reserve