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Gardening sheet   amorpha californica
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Gardening sheet amorpha californica



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  • 1. California false indigo – Amorpha californica (a-MOR-fuh kal-ih-FOR-ni-kuh) Family: Fabaceae (Pea Family) Native to: Mountains of western CA from N. CA south, AZ and Baja CA. Locally in the Santa Monica & San Gabriel mtns.; shrubby or open slopes in slopes in Yellow Pine Forest, Chaparral, Mixed Evergreen Forest, Oak Woodland and riparian woodlands. Growth characteristics: woody shrub mature height: 4-8 ft. mature width: 4-8 ft. Open, drought-deciduous shrub with hairy, scented foliage. Leaves are compound, to 12” in length, medium green, with hair-like glands. Leaves smaller than similar Amorpha fruticosa. Plant shape very dependent on light – more rounded, shrubby in more light, groundcover-like in lower light. The foliage has pleasant fragrance – like tropical fruit perhaps combined with lavender. Wonderful! Blooms/fruits: Blooms are unusual. Plants flower in spring – usually Apr-June in our area. Inflorescence (flower cluster) is spike-like. Individual flowers are small, somewhat pea-like with prominent purple sepals and reproductive structures extending beyond the fused sepals. This plant is exotic looking when in bloom. The flower stalks are subtle but so unusual as to draw attention. Uses in the garden: Usually planted for its habitat value. Larval food source for California’s state butterfly, the California Dogface (Zerene eurydice). Nice addition to a scent garden. Does well in shady or partly shady areas, under trees. Fine on shady slopes, stream banks. The foliage is so different that it provides a nice contrast with other local native shrubs. Fine in large containers. Sensible substitute for: Non-native shrubs in Pea Family like Psoralea pinnata, Caragana species. Attracts: Excellent butterfly and hummingbird habitat (see above). Requirements: Element Requirement Sun Filtered sun to nearly full shade Soil Adaptable; most local textures including sand, pH 6.0-8.0 Water Drought tolerance but best with occasional summer water (Water Zone 1-2 to 2) Fertilizer Not required, except in container; light doses Other Fine with organic mulch – in fact, probably best with mulch Management: The only issue is summer irrigation schedule. Other than that, easy once established in a shady spot. Prune when dormant; can shape but best to just remove old branches. Propagation: from seed: easy from fresh; 21 days cold-moist for stored by cuttings/layering: yes Plant/seed sources (see list for source numbers): 8, 10, 13 7/1/14 © Project SOUND