Return to Library Home Page


Scientific: Dalea frutescens
Common: black dalea, black indigo bush
Family: Fabaceae
Origin: Disturbed sites from southern and western Oklahoma, central Texas west to New Mexico and south into Chihuahua, Coahuila, and south to Nuevo Leon, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Pronounciation: Da-LEE-a fru-TES-cens

Hardiness zones:
Sunset 11-13
USDA 8-11

Landscape Use: Accent shrub xeriscape gardens

Form & Character: Rounded, grayish, recessive to semi-prostrate and spreading, arid.

Growth Habit: Evergreen woody perennial, moderate growth rate to 3 feet with greater spread.

Foliage/Texture: Leaves gray green, finely pubscent, small and pinnately-compound, 8 to 20 oval leaflets, 1/8 inch long; fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Clusters of small, violet flowers, fruit inconspicuous.

Seasonal color: Flowers in Fall, August to November.

Temperature: Heat tolerant, cold hardy to 15oF.

Light: Full sun

Soil: Well drained soil is best.

Watering: Tolerates moderate drought once established. Water infrequently during summer to prevent excessive leaf drop.

Pruning: If leggy (they sound like they're learning to play their instruments), then prune severely to rejuvenate or control shape. Otherwise, infrequently very lightly shear.

Propagation: Seed and soft wood stem cutting

Disease and Pests: Root rot if drainage is poor

Additional comments: Informal looking, great for xeriscape landscapes. Fall blooms provide a landscape accent at a time when few other landscape plants are showy. Flowers attract bees. Great contrast with Salvia greggii. Cultivar 'Sierra Negra' is a trade mark of Starr Nursery.

Dalea pulchra (indigo bush) looks very similar, but flowers in the spring instead of fall.