• Baptisia australis - Blue False Indigo


    "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 it 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. " (North Carolina Extension)

    Baptisia Australis Botany by Dr. John Hilty

    Bean family (Fabaceae)


    "The preference is full sun, mesic to dry conditions, and a slightly acidic soil that is gravelly or rocky. Blue Wild Indigo readily adapts to fertile loamy soil in gardens, but in naturalistic settings it may have difficulty competing with other plants. Blue Wild Indigo is somewhat slow in becoming established, but it is not difficult to cultivate. Once this plant becomes established, it is very tolerant of drought and long-lived. Like many other legumes, its root system binds nitrogen to the soil via symbiotic bacteria." (Hilty)

    Faunal Associations: 

    "Queen bumblebees are the primary pollinators of the flowers, where they feed on nectar primarily. Other insects feed destructively on the leaves, developing seeds, and other parts of Blue Wild Indigo and other Wild Indigos (Baptisia spp.). These species include larvae of two moths, the Three-lined Grapholita (Grapholita tristrigana) and Black-rimmed Prominent (Dasylophia anguina), larvae of two skippers, the Wild Indigo Duskywing (Erynnis baptisiae) and Hoary Edge (Achalarus lyciades), and larvae of three butterflies, the Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus), Marine Blue (Leptotes marina), and Orange Sulfur (Colias eurytheme); see Miller (1987), Covell (1984/2005), Bouseman et al. (2006), and Bouseman & Sternburg (2001). Other insect feeders include the Wild Indigo Weevil (Apion rostrum) and another weevil (Tychius sordidus). The larvae of these weevils feed on the developing seeds, while the adults feed on the leaves and flowers. The Ash-Gray Blister Beetle (Epicauta fabricii) feeds on the flowers and young seed pods, while two leaf beetles, Pachybrachis luridus and Pachybrachis trinotatus, feed on the leaves of Wild Indigos. The Lupine Bug (Megalotomus quinquespinosus) and other broad-headed bugs (Alydus spp.) feed on the seeds. The thrips, Neohydatothrips baptisiae, also uses these plants as sources of food. See Sauer (2005), Evans et al. (1989), Clark et al. (2004), Schaeffer (1980), and Stannard (1968) for more information. Mammalian herbivores usually avoid the consumption of Blue Wild Indigo and other Wild Indigos because their foliage is somewhat toxic." (Hilty)


    1.  "Baptisia australis 2, Scotts Run, 6-2-13" by FritzFlohrReynolds is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
    2. "Baptisia australis" By Eric Hunt - Own work, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 
    3. "Baptisia australis, Scotts Run, 6-1-12" by FritzFlohrReynolds is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
    4. "Baptisia australis, Scotts Run, 6-1-13" by FritzFlohrReynolds is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    Botanical Illustration: "Blue wild indigo, blue false indigo. Baptisia australis [as Podalyria australis. Choix des plus belles fleurs -et des plus beaux fruits par P.J. Redouté. (1833)" by Swallowtail Garden Seeds is licensed under

    North Carolina Extension plant description: Baptisia Australis (Blue False Indigo, Blue Wild Indigo, False Indigo, Wild Indigo) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/baptisia-australis/. Accessed 1 Feb. 2022.

    John Hilty Botany, Cultivation, Faunal Associations: John Hilty, "Blue Wild Indigo", Illinois Wildflowers, the publisher, Copyright 2004-2019. Accessed 29 January 2022

    Carpenter bee image"Carpenter (?) bee with pollen visiting false indigo (Baptisia australis) flowers" by karen_hine is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    Type: Herbaceous perennial
    Family: Fabaceae
    Native Range: Eastern United States
    Zone: 3 to 9
    Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
    Spread: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
    Bloom Time: May to June
    Bloom Description: Indigo blue
    Sun: Full sun to part shade
    Water: Dry to medium
    Maintenance: Low
    Suggested Use: Naturalize
    Flower: Showy
    Attracts: Butterflies
    Fruit: Showy
    Tolerate: Rabbit, Drought, Erosion, Clay Soil, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

    Information and images compiled by Erik N.Vegeto

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