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Wild Indigo Baptisia australis

Other plants called Wild Indigo:

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

Blue False Indigo is a native herbaceous perennial plant in the bean family that grows in forests or natural areas in woodland borders.  It grows from 3 to 5 feet tall, and with its showy blue flowers it is a spring highlight. Plant it in full sun to part shade but in the shade tends to get leggy and droop over.  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. 

If you desire a round appearance, would prefer to not add support to the plant, and do not want the seed pods to develop, then after the flowers bloom (but before the seed pods set), you could prune back the leaves.  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 but they may not grow into a flowering plant until years later. Cuttings taken in April or May will also root fairly easily if they are taken while the growth is still soft.  

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

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  No major diseases or insects problems.  If plants get tall in partial shade, a support may be helpful.

VIDEO Created by Homegrown featuring Mark Weathington, Director of JC Raulston Arboretum 

More information on Baptisia.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Plant Walls and Hedges Lake Wall Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Carolina Moonlight'
    Soft yellow blooms, 3-4 feet tall
  • 'Screeming Yellow'
  • var. minor
    dwarf
'Carolina Moonlight', 'Screeming Yellow', var. minor
Tags:
#showy flowers#full sun#partial shade#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#native perennial#blue flowers#salt tolerant#cottage garden#rabbit resistant#erosion control#NC native#dye plant#deer resistant#Hoary edge#Orange sulphur#Frosted elfin#Clouded sulphur#long lifespan#dried arrangements#poor soils tolerant#larval host plant#NC Native Pollinator Plant#dried fruits#Wild Indigo Duskywing#rocky soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#HS302#woodlands#shallow soil tolerant#blue dye#show fruits#eastern tailed blue#stormwater demo garden orange co
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Carolina Moonlight'
    Soft yellow blooms, 3-4 feet tall
  • 'Screeming Yellow'
  • var. minor
    dwarf
'Carolina Moonlight', 'Screeming Yellow', var. minor
Tags:
#showy flowers#full sun#partial shade#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#native perennial#blue flowers#salt tolerant#cottage garden#rabbit resistant#erosion control#NC native#dye plant#deer resistant#Hoary edge#Orange sulphur#Frosted elfin#Clouded sulphur#long lifespan#dried arrangements#poor soils tolerant#larval host plant#NC Native Pollinator Plant#dried fruits#Wild Indigo Duskywing#rocky soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#HS302#woodlands#shallow soil tolerant#blue dye#show fruits#eastern tailed blue#stormwater demo garden orange co
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Baptisia
    Species:
    australis
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Uses by indigenous people 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
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central & Eastern U.S.A
    Distribution:
    PA south to NC and TN
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    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:
    Buffer
    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:
    Native Plant
    Perennial
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Good Dried
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Inflated seed pods filled with many seeds appear after bloom. They ripen when they are very black and up to 2.5 inches long in late summer. 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:
    Corymb
    Insignificant
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Winter
    Flower Description:
    On spikes and arranged on 16-inches-tall racemes, flowers are generally purple/blue (about .75-in.). Plant it in full sun to part shade but in the shade tends to get leggy and droop over.  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.  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 Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Slippery
    Smooth
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Subulate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Trifoliate leaves look similar to clovers but are blue/green: these leaflets can be as long as 2 inches and have smooth edges. The alternate leaves have a smooth margin (entire). This perennial herb has 3-parted leaves, turning black upon drying.
  • Stem:
    Stem Buds:
    Smooth/Hairless
    Stem Description:
    Stems with seed pods are valued additions to dried flower arrangements.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Houseplants
    Vertical Spaces
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Fairy Garden
    Native Garden
    Rain Garden
    Water Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Diseases
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Erosion
    Fire
    Insect Pests
    Poor Soil
    Rabbits
    Problems:
    Allelopathic
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Children
    Weedy
  • 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