New Indigofera species described by Kew scientists
Fourteen species of the blue dye-producing genus have been described as new to science
22 Dec 2009
Indigofera serpenticola, one of the new species of indigo. (Image: Brian Schrire, RBG Kew)
Fourteen species of the genus Indigofera, which produces the blue dye indigo, have been described as new to science in 2009.
Few natural by-products have played as prominent a role in history and in international trade as indigo. It has been a valued dye from the earliest human civilizations because of its compatibility with all types of natural fibres and its ability to be combined with other natural dyes to create a range of colours not possible to produce with synthetic substitutes.
Kew has had a long-standing interest in the research of this genus and these discoveries arose during ongoing research in southern tropical Africa. Of the 14 new species described, 11 are highly localised and are threatened with extinction.
Indigofera has more than 750 species and occurs throughout the tropical regions of the world. It is a member of the Leguminosae (pea family).
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- Discover more about indigo on our Plant Cultures pages
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