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Among the Cherokee and Iroquois, wild indigo is a traditional remedy for various sorts of pain, as well as for ailments of the liver and venereal disease. Among the Eclectic Physicians of the 18th and early 19th centuries, the plant was esteemed as a remedy in cases of intermittent fevers, typhus, and dysentery. Modern research has found that this plant stimulates the immune system. Although wild indigo is not extremely rare or extremely popular, it is uncommon in some parts of its range. If research into this plant makes it a popular remedy as it did for echinacea, there is a real possibility that wild indigo may disappear from these parts of its range.
Cultivation: Wild indigo thrives in dry open areas with a little shade. The beans can be sown after the last frost, or the plant can be sprouted indoors in flats and transplanted. The plants should be grown at least 24" apart. It does not tolerate frost well. The root is harvested after the fruits ripen and the plant begins to die, generally in September of the second year but possibly earlier, depending on the climate. It thrives best in southern states with a long growing season.
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Last Updated: 4/4/02