Plant of the Week: Pink-flowered Indigo

A City MomentThe delicate blooms of pink-flowered indigo spring up from the planting beds at West 16th Street. Take a moment's pause during your next visit so you don't miss them!

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees — each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share with you one of our gardeners’ current favorites.

Pink-flowered indigo, Indigofera amblyantha, is a flowering shrub in the pea family. A native of forest edges and streambanks in central China, it’s prized in North American gardens for its long blooming season of pale pink flowers.

Pink-flowered indigo may not be as exemplary as its relatives, but you’ll recognize its pedigree in its common name, “indigo.” A close relative, true indigo, Indigofera tinctoria, is considered one of the world’s oldest textiles dyes, with its use dating back thousands of years. Indigo’s ties to India are reflected in its name which is derived from the Greek word indikón, or “Indian.” Historically, leaves of the plant were fermented, mixed with a strong base such as lye, and then pressed into cakes that were then powdered. The process for creating indigo dyes began in India and later spread through Europe and Africa, where its hue has often signified luxury and wealth.

In bloom on the High Line at West 16th Street.

Download our September Bloom Guide.

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