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Seeds of Trade


Region: South Asia

Other regions: 

Product: Dyes and pigments

Other products from this region: 
   Dyes and pigments belong to the category Miscellaneous inedible


Indigo - a dye

Indigofera tinctoria L. (Fabaceae)

Originally given its scientific name by Linnaeus in 1753, using plants from various sources, the species was said to come from India. The species epithet refers to its properties as a dye and the generic name from the Indus River, via the Portuguese word indigo, which was derived from the Greek Indikon — meaning from the River Indus.

Probably native to India, cultivation was widespread before the advent of synthetic dyes.

Life form: small shrub, often rather spindly.

Parts used: leaves used to produce a dye giving various shades of blue.

Ploidy level: diploid


Specimen from the Hermann Herbarium at the Natural History Museum, London (Indigofera tinctoria L. – Indigo)