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Baptisia australis is often confused with:
Lupinus Lupinus spp.
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Baptisia alba Baptisia alba
Baptisia tinctoria Baptisia tinctoria
Ampelaster carolinianus Ampelaster carolinianus

Blue False Indigo Baptisia australis

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
bap-TEE-sha aw-STRAL-iss
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Blue Wild Indigo is a herbaceous perennial that may grow 3 to 5 feet tall. The leaves have a smooth margin and are alternate and divided into three leaflets. Showy, blue to violet racemes mature in late spring and continue into early summer. The herb produces a thick erect pod with a long curved beak.

Where to Plant: It grows best in full sun to part shade but tends to get a little floppy when it doesn’t get a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight. It forms tall clumps which are especially attractive planted next to wooden fences. The bright, indigo blue flowers are attractive when combined with yellow or white flowering perennials. Wild Blue Indigo is easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. However, it does best in full sun. Over time, plants develop slowly expanding clumps with deep and extensive root systems and should not be disturbed once established. They may be grown from seed but takes several years to yellow-flowered.

Found in : Forest or natural areas in woodland borders and open woods; landscape in flower gardens as native, herbaceous perennials

Another plant option: B. tinctoria, a yellow-flowered species of Baptisia, is also native to the eastern USA and grows well in warm, sunny gardens.

Fire Risk: This plant has a medium flammability rating. 

Seasons of Interest: 

  Blooms: Spring             Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Late summer

Pruning Tips: Plants take on more of a shrubby appearance and tend to open up after bloom. Trimming or shearing foliage after bloom helps maintain rounded plant appearance and obviates a possible need for staking, but eliminates the developing seed pods which are so attractive.

Propagation Tips: Seed sown when fresh in mid-summer. The best way to propagate this plant is to collect seeds in late summer as soon as they mature and sow them directly where you want them to grow. Cuttings taken in April or May will also root fairly easily if they are taken while the growth is still soft.  

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Taller plants may need support, particularly when grown in part shade locations.

More information on Baptisia.

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Baptisia australis var. minor
    dwarf
  • 'Screeming Yellow'
Tags:
#purple#hummingbirds#butterflies#sun#deciduous#poisonous#full sun#partial shade#blue#drought tolerant#spring#perennial#herbs#easy to grow#wildlife plant#wildflowers#showy#native perennial#spring flowers#host plant#dried flowers#highly beneficial coastal plants#fire#medium flammability#deer damage#dye plant#native garden#Wild Indigo Duskywing butterfly#Hoary edge#Orange sulphur#Frosted elfin#Clouded sulphur#pollinator plant#native wildflower#poor soils tolerant#larval host plant#NC Native Pollinator Plant#butterfly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Baptisia australis var. minor
    dwarf
  • 'Screeming Yellow'
Tags:
#purple#hummingbirds#butterflies#sun#deciduous#poisonous#full sun#partial shade#blue#drought tolerant#spring#perennial#herbs#easy to grow#wildlife plant#wildflowers#showy#native perennial#spring flowers#host plant#dried flowers#highly beneficial coastal plants#fire#medium flammability#deer damage#dye plant#native garden#Wild Indigo Duskywing butterfly#Hoary edge#Orange sulphur#Frosted elfin#Clouded sulphur#pollinator plant#native wildflower#poor soils tolerant#larval host plant#NC Native Pollinator Plant#butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Baptisia
    Species:
    australis
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Uses in the past included rattles (from the ripened seed pods) for children and blue dye. The beautiful blue flowers have been used to make a blue dye nearly comparable to dye made from the flowers of indigo.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central & Eastern U.S.A
    Distribution:
    PA south to NC and TN
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    It is a host plant for the Wild Indigo Duskywing butterfly.  Its flowers are attractive to butterflies, bees, and other insects. This plant is also a larval host plant for a variety of butterflies including: Orange sulphur, Clouded sulphur, Frosted elfin, Eastern tailed blue, Hoary edge, and Wild indigo duskywing.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    drought, salt, poor soil, rabbit, erosion, dry soil, clay soil, shallow-rocky soil, highly resistant to deer damage
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Herb
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Wildflower
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Open
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Good Dried
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    After flooms bloom, seed pods that look inflated arrive. You know they are ripe when they are very black and up to 2.5 inches long: this is around late summer. Inside this pod is many seeds. People enjoy the seed pods' appearance for ornamental interest or even dried flower arrangments (when the seed pod is with the stem).
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Irregular
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    On spikes and arranged on 16-inches-tall racemes, flowers are generally purple/blue (about .75-in.). Flowers are either on long-stalked clusters above the leaves or axillary. They bloom in late spring (sometimes around early summer) in white, blue, purple/blue, or yellow and are irregular and pea-shaped.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Trifoliate leaves look similar to clovers but are blue/green: these leaflets can be as long as 2 inches. The alternate leaves have a smooth margin (entire). This perennial herb has 3-parted leaves, turning black upon drying.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Stems with seed pods are valued additions to dried flower arrangements.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Riparian
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Small groups
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Diseases
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Erosion
    Insect Pests
    Poor Soil
    Rabbits
    Salt
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    THIS PLANT CAUSES ONLY LOW TOXICITY IF EATEN. Poisonous through ingestion. All parts are poisonous. Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Baptisin and cytisine
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Sap/Juice
    Seeds
    Stems