For at least 4,000 years, it is thought that Indigo has been used as a coloring agent. Very little information is available on the use of Indigo as an incense in historical literature. Mostly it is thought of as a Saturnian element that may have magical use as a banisher. It's main importance as a dye stems from the deep blue color and its fastness to light. It was at one time widely cultivated for this purpose but, with the advent of synthetic dyes, demand for the plant has dropped dramatically. The plant itself does not contain Indigo, but a colorless precursor. The leaves are placed in water with lime and allowed to ferment. After the liquid is strained and stirred for several hours, the solution is allowed to settle. After straining off the water, the left over insoluble indigo is allowed to dry.
Indigo produces very little smoke with a mild aroma when heated on top of charcoal. Heating the Indigo on a piece of foil or metal dish over the more intense heat from a direct flame yields as slightly colored bluish smoke with a somewhat unpleasant herbal aroma. Indigo is best used when mixed with other more fragrant resins of woods. Indigo is best used in incense as a coloring agent for the raw material. Not much happens when Indigo is heated on an electric burner. The main benefit of indigo in this method would be for turning another resin the color blue as the blend melts on the electric burner. Furthermore, freshly produced Indigo may retain a fairly unpleasant aroma which fades over time. A very fresh batch of Indigo that still contains a bit of trapped moisture and is extra pungent, as what might be expected from a Saturnian plant. The scent may be reminiscent of rotten ganja and a bit of "wet dog".
Outside of incense and dye production, the raw leaves of the plant have been used medicinally throughout history, mainly for skin problems externally and nervous disorders when infused in a tea.
I. tinctoria is thought to have originated in India and is now found throughout the moist deciduous tropical/subtropical forests and lowland plains of much the Old World. It has also become naturalized throughout the Americas.
The species is especially wide spread throughout Africa, including: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe. It is also found in Yemen and on the islands of Cape Verde, Madagascar, and Socotra.
Indigo grows naturally throughout much of India and the neighboring countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan and the islands of Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Specifically found in the Indian states and regions of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal, Assam, Bihar, Dadra and North Haveli, Daman and Diu, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
The species is also found further east in the Asian countries of Cambodia, Chinese provinces of Anhui and Hainan, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Further south into Austronesia; the plant has become naturalized in the Australian state of Queensland and the Northern Territory, and on the islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea.
Common English Black Henna, Bengal Indigo, Ceylon Indigo, Commercial Indigo, Common Indigo, Dyer’s Indigo, East Asian Indigo, Frank Indigo, Indian Indigo, Indigo, True Indigo
African tongues Bambara: Gala (Senegal), Gara (Senegal), Gara missé (Mali), Ngala (Senegal) Hausa: Báábáá (Niger, Nigeria), Báábán kóóre, Báábán rínii Malagasy: Aika, Engilavy, Engitra,Ingetsea Somali: Allan, Ellan Yoruba:Elú-àjà , Elú-weere, Sense Unspecified Senegalese tongues: Boru, Cárrè, Garé, Karé, Karo, Nônan, Tinta Unspecified Ethiopian tongues: Ellam-Habut
Asian tongues Chinese: 木蓝 Mu lan Japanese: ナンバンアイ Nanban-ai, タイワンコマツナギ Taiwan komatsuna gi Vietnamese: Chàm, Chà đậu
Austronesian tongues Filipino: Dagum, Tugum Malay: Tarum, Tom Tatalog: Malatayum Unspecified Indonesian tongues: Tarum alus, Tarum Kaju, Tom Jawa
NOTE: The research on Indigofera tinctoriais ongoing. We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information on our products. Please expect the above information to be revised as more information becomes available. If you have further information about this species or if you wish to submit a correction to this page, please feel free to contact us here
As of 2016, we have decided to majorly simplify the taxonomic structures of the species collection. Due to the numerous systems available, and many species being disputed and in a state of flux, we feel that most of our audience will be better served with a easier to understand condensed listing.