Family: Fabaceae

Synonyms: Indigofera gerardiana, Indigofera himalayensis retusa, Indigofera macrostachya,Indigofera rubroviolacea.

Common Name: Indigo Bush, Himalayan indigo

Local Name: Kalli kathi (काली काथी ), Kathura

Kalli kathi is a deciduous bushy shrub found growing from 1000 to 2800 m elevation in Western Himalaya. It is leafless from November to March and in flowering from August to October. It require well drained sunny position but can also grow in moist soil and frequently seen growing along roadside, rocky wet slopes as well as in open forest land.


Close up of Kathi

     Flowers of Kalli kathi are edible. They can be made into Kachru, rayata and also pickled after boiling. Local people also use Its twigs for basket making

  Kalli kathi is harvested from wild habitat as a source of food, fuel, fodder, medicine and material. During full bloom Kalli kathi hold attention of visitors and tourists, so recommended to be planted as a ornamental plant along roadside or hedge to demarcate boundaries   

  Like other members of genus Indigofera  Kalli kathi is also able to fix atmospheric nitrogen in symbiotics association with certain bacteria.


Tender branches are used as toothbrush by local people

Kalli kathi Plant:

Plant is silvery –pubescent or tomentose, deciduous shrubs up to 2.5 m high.

Branches are covered with bristly white hair.

Leaves are 4-8 cm long; leaflets 7-23, opposite, variable, obovate or oblong- ovate, mucronate, 4-12 mm long, hairy. Bracts minute.

Flowers pale red or purple, 6-10 mm long, shortly peduncled, in 3-8 cm long racemes.

Pods cylindrical, 1-2.5 cm long, pubescent, 6-12 seeded.

Kali Kathi can best provide edible flowers from rainy to pre winter season of the year. As flowers are eaten as food they should be harvested in sustainable manner, like rotation of habitat and keeping some flowers on parent plant for regeneration.

Edible Uses:

Edible flowers of Kalli kathi prepared as a snack called kachru  in local dialect. The flowers are also used for making rayataa and a very tasty pickle can also be made from boiled flowers.


Kalli kathi flowers, 500 g; besan (black gram flour) or corn flour, 1/2 kg; fresh coriander leaves (chopped),1 cup amount; 1/2 table spoon  caraway, 3-5 green chillies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 chopped medium sized onions and salt according to taste.


 Make a paste of Kalli kathi flowers, besan or corn flour and spices listed above. Heat some oil on a flat heating pan. Put some paste over a pan, spread it like a chapati and cook from both sides for 15 to 20 minutes and kachru will be ready to serve.

Kachru, of kathi flowers

Seek professional advice before treating this plant medicinally.


1/2 kg Kalli kathi fresh flower, 1 Kg curd, 1 cup fresh coriander leaves (chopped), 3-5 green chillies, a pinch of black pepper powder, 1 table spoon rai powder, 2-3 medium sized chopped onions and salt according to taste.


Boil and squeeze Kalli kathi flowers then add to curd with ingredients listed above for preparing rayata or give a shallow fry to these boiled flowers in hot oil with onion and other spices listed above, before adding to curd. Garnish recipe with coriander, Mentha piperta, Oxalis corniculata and Rumex hastata leaves Now rayata is ready to serve.

Preparing Pickle:

Pickle is also prepared from Kalli kathi flowers. For preparing pickle, flowers are boiled and dried in sun before sauting in hot mustered oil and spices like fenugreek seed powder, turmeric powder, red chilies powder and salt taste. One to three table spoon mustard seed powder is added to make pickle sour. Pickle is ready to eat after 25-30 days.

Medicinal Uses:

Powered root heals internal injuries, half teaspoon twice a day with cow milk for 5-8 days. Plant is also considered useful for cough, muscular pains and urinary disorders in animal. Aerial parts are anticancer.

Other uses:

Kalli kathi twigs are used to prepare basket by local people in hills. Its young branches are used as toothbrush for cleaning teeth. Plant is also a good source of fodder and fuel. Kalli kathi is reported to have symbiotic relationship with certain types of soil bacteria like other members of genus Indigofera. These bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.

2 thoughts on “Indigofera heterantha Wall. ex Brandis. – Kalli kathi (काली काथी ), Kathura

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