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Baptisia alba

This plant has poison characteristics. See below.
Common Name(s):
False indigo, White indigo, Wild white indigo
Categories:
Groundcover, Herbs, Native Plants, Poisonous Plants, Wildflowers
Comment:

Baptisia alba commonly called white false indigo is an upright perennial which typically grows 2-3’ tall and occurs in dry woods from Tennessee and North Carolina to Florida.

Native to southeast

Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains

Seasons of Interest: 

  Blooms: Spring/summer             Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Late summer/fall

Wildlife Value:  This plant is highly resistant to damage from deer.  It is a host plant for the Monarch butterfly.  Its flowers are attractive to butterflies and other insects.

 

Description:
Perennial herb with alternate, 3-parted leaves, turning black upon drying; flowers either on long-stalked clusters above the leaves or axillary; white, blue, or yellow; irregular and pea-shaped; fruit an inflated, stalked pod with several seeds
Season:
Spring to early summer
Light:
Sun, part shade
Height:
2-4 ft.
Hardiness:
5-8
Foliage:
Mound of clover-like, trifoliate, 1-2 in., bluish-green leaflets; spreading slender branches
Flower:
False indigo features small, creamy white (occasionally streaked with darker patches), pea-like flowers (to 1/2” long) in erect racemes (to 12”) atop dark, charcoal gray flower stems extending well above a foliage mound of clover-like, trifoliate, bluish-green leaves (leaflets to 2” long). It blooms in the spring. The flowers give way to inflated seed pods (to 1 3/4” long) which turn brown to black when ripe and have considerable ornamental interest. The stems with seed pods are valued additions to dried flower arrangements.
Zones:
5-8
Habit:
Herbaceous perennial
Site:
False indigo is easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerates drought and poor soils. Over time, plants form slowly expanding clumps with deep and extensive root systems, and should not be disturbed once established. Difficult to grow from seed and slow to establish. 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 any need for staking, but eliminates the developing seed pods which are so attractive.
Size:
2-4 ft.; spread of 2-2.5 ft.
Poison Part:
All parts
Poison Delivery Mode:
Ingestion
Symptoms:
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Toxic Principle:
Baptisin and cytisine
Severity:
CAUSES ONLY LOW TOXICITY IF EATEN
Found in:
Forest or natural areas in woodland borders and open woods; landscape in flower gardens as native, herbaceous perennials
Life Cycle:
Perennial
Tags:
pods, pea-like flowers, clover leaves, native perennial, native, full sun, ,, , host, butterflies,, white, :dried flowers, showy

NCCES plant id: 248

Baptisia alba Baptisia alba
Kerry Woods, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Baptisia alba Baptisia alba
Dan Mullen, CC BY-NC-2.0
Baptisia alba Baptisia alba - close up of flowers
bebet2006, CC BY - 2.0
Baptisia alba Baptisia alba
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, CC BY - 2.0