Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis)
Pea Family (Fabaceae)
Blue Wild Indigo is an upright bushy perennial herb, growing to 4 feet tall and arising from a woody base and rhizomes. Stems are glabrous, waxy, and stout; and branch extensively about halfway up. If they are broken, they secrete a sap that turns dark blue upon contact with the air. The trifoliate leaves are bluish-green and smooth and have obovate to oblanceolate leaflets. Borne in erect terminal racemes well above the foliage, the typical pea flowers are light blue to deep violet to blue-purple. Flowers from April through June. The fruit is an inflated, oblong, bluish black pod. At maturity, they will contain many loose seeds within. Stems with seed pods are used in dried flower arrangements. Has been used to make blue dyes. Plant is toxic if ingested. A tea from the roots has been used as a purgative. Found in rich woods, thickets, along streambanks, wood edges, limestone glades, open woods, roadsides, and prairies in the central and eastern US. Prefers full sun and moist to well-drained soils. Tolerates drought and poor soils. Also known as blue false indigo, wild blue indigo, indigo weed, rattleweed, rattlebush, and horse fly weed. There are three recognized varieties.
Listed as endangered in OH; threatened in IN, MD, and NC; and species of concern in KY.
Copyright Brett Miley