The species are mostly shrubs, though some are herbaceous, and a few can become small trees up to 5–6 m (16–20 ft) tall. Most are dry-season or winter deciduous. The leaves are pinnate with 5–31 leaflets and the terminal leaflet present. Leaf sizes vary from 3–25 cm (1.2–9.8 in). The flowers are small, produced on racemes 2–15 cm (0.79–5.9 in) long.
Several of them and especially Indigofera tinctoria and Indigofera suffruticosa are used to produce the dye indigo. Colonial planters in the Caribbean grew indigo and transported its cultivation when they settled in the colony of South Carolina. Exports of the crop did not expand until the mid-to late 18th century. When Eliza Lucas Pinckney and enslaved Africans successfully cultivated new strains near Charleston it became the second most important cash crop in the colony (after rice) before the American Revolution. It comprised more than one-third the value of all exports.
Several species of this group are used to alleviate pain. The herbs are generally regarded as an analgesic with anti-inflammatory activity, rather than an anodyne. Indigofera articulata Gouan (Arabic Khedaish) was used for toothache, and Indigofera oblongifolia Forsskal (Arabic "Hasr") was used as an anti-inflammatory for insect stings, snakebites, and swellings.
In Indonesia, especially Sundanese ethnic traditionally use Indigofera tinctoria L called as "tarum" as dye for batik. The use of tarum had faded away since Dutch colonialism introduce artificial colour.
Selected species 
See also 
Baptisia (false indigo), a related genus
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Further reading 
- Kumar, Prakash. Indigo Plantations and Science in Colonial India (Cambridge University Press, 2012) 334pp
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- "Tico Ethnobotanical Dictionary". Retrieved 2007-06-16.
- "(syllabus: Duke University)".
- see references 8–9 in "Antimicrobial Activity of Indigofera suffruticosa".
- US 6083509 "Phytodrug for management of peptic ulcer and methods of preparing and using same"
- Bussmann, R. W., et al. (2006). Plant use of the Maasai of Sekenani Valley, Maasai Mara, Kenya. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2 22.