- Common Name(s):
- Rattleweed, Wild indigo, Yellow wild indigo
- Herbs, Native Plants, Perennials, Wildflowers
Baptisia tinctoria commonly called wild indigo or yellow wild indigo is an upright, smooth, shrubby perennial which typically grows 2-3' tall and occurs in open woods and fields from Maine to Florida and west to Minnesota.
Wild indigo is a low maintenance herbaceous perennial in the Fabaceae family. The specific epithet comes from the Latin word for dye and this plant was used by early Americans as a poor substitute for true indigo (genus Indigofera) in making dyes.
It has small, bright yellow to cream, pea-like flowers (to 1/2" long) in numerous, sparsely-flowered terminal raceme clusters (4-5") on stems extending above a foliage mound of stalkless, clover-like, trifoliate, gray-green leaves (leaflets to 1" long). Light shearing of foliage after bloom helps to maintain a rounded plant appearance but eliminates the developing seed pods.
It tolerates, drought, poor and dry soils, and works well when planted to manage erosion. Plant in a woodland, cottage, native, or meadow garden as a specimen or in small groups. Its flowers are not as showy as some other members of the Baptisia genus so it is not always the best choice for a front and center placement in the garden.
Regions: Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains
Seasons of Interest:
Bloom: Late spring-Early summer, May-June Nut/Fruit/Seed: Late summer/Fall
Wildlife Value: This plant is highly resistant to damage from deer. It is a host plant for the Wild Indigo Duskywing butterfly. Flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies.
- Summer, fall
- Sun, part shade
- 2-3 ft.
- Flower Color:
- USDA Hardiness Zone 3-9
- Wild Indigo has 1" long gray-green, trifoliate and clover-like leaves.
- Wild Indigo features small, bright yellow to cream, pea-like flowers (to 1/2" long) in numerous, sparsely-flowered clusters (terminal racemes to 4-5") on stems extending above a foliage mound of stalkless, clover-like, trifoliate, gray-green leaves (leaflets to 1" long). It blooms in late spring to early summer. The flowers give way to small inflated seed pods which turn black when ripe and have some ornamental interest. The seeds rattle around in the pods when ripe, thus giving rise to the sometimes common name of rattleweed for this species. It was used by early Americans as a substitute, albeit an inferior one, for true indigo (genus Indigofera) in making dyes.
- This plant is easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade, but does it best in full sun. It will tolerate drought and poor soils. Over time, plants form slowly expanding clumps with deep and extensive root systems, and should not be disturbed once established. It is difficult to grow from seed and slow to establish. Plants take on more of a shrubby appearance and tend to open up after bloom. Light trimming or shearing foliage after bloom helps maintain rounded plant appearance and obviates any need for support, but eliminates the developing seed pods.
- Full sun to partial shade
- Dry-medium well-drained
- Eastern United States
NCCES plant id: 3290