The plant was introduced into Florida in 1925 as a potential forage species as it is in the same family as alfalfa, clover and peanuts. Toxicology concerns were evident by the ‘30s and using it for forage was abandoned.
It has since expanded northward from Key West into Central and North Florida. Flagler County has an Invasive Exotic Control Program and creeping indigo has just been added to the list as officials work to significantly reduce it on public lands.
“We are getting better at identifying it,” said Mark Warren, UF/IFAS Extension agent in Flagler and Putnam counties. “We want people to know what to look for.”
Warren is hosting an educational meeting about creeping indigo from 10 a.m. to noon July 25 at the Extension Office, 150 Sawgrass Road, Bunnell.
The plants grow like groundcover, have pink to coral colored flowers arranged in clusters with leaves that have six to eight small clover-like leaflets per leaf unit.
“The plant can be showy looking, but detection can be difficult when in areas where it either mixes with other grasses and plants,” Warren said. “Livestock owners should learn to identify and manage pastures to reduce risks associated with creeping indigo.
Non-neurological symptoms include weight loss and loss of appetite, increased heart rate, labored breathing, hypersalivation, foaming from the mouth and dehydration among others. Neurological symptoms include changes in personality and depression, low head set, head pressing, compulsive walking, head tilting, hanging lips, abnormal gait and unconsciousness or convulsions.
For more information about creeping indigo management and pasture control, contact Warren at 386-437-7464, or 386-329-0318. If you think you have identified creeping indigo on public lands, contact Flagler County’s Land Management Coordinator Mike Lagasse at 386-313-4046.