Blue False Indigo, Baptisia australis

Blue False Indigo

Baptisia australis

Benefits: Pollinator Benefit Graphic
Sun Shade: Plant Light Requirements Graphic
Bloom Time: Late spring/Early Summer
Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Soil Conditions: Loam
Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Blue
Fragrance: No
Height: 3-4 feet
Spacing: 3-4 feet

Blue False Indigo, Baptisia australis, is an upright perennial which typically grows 3-4 feet tall and occurs in rich woods, thickets and along streambanks. It features purple, lupine-like flowers in erect racemes atop flower spikes extending well above a foliage mound of clover-like, trifoliate, bluish-green leaves. Blooms in spring and the flowers give way to inflated seed pods which turn charcoal black when ripe and have considerable ornamental interest. The root system consists of a branching taproot that often forms clonal offsets.

Habitats include rocky open woodlands, gravel prairies, and rocky banks of rivers. Occasional wildfires are probably beneficial in maintaining populations of this plant by reducing competition from woody vegetation.

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun. Tolerates drought and poor soils. Over time, plants develop slowly expanding clumps with deep and extensive root systems, and should not be disturbed once established. May be grown from seed, but takes several years to establish. Plants take on more of a shrubby appearance and tend to open up after bloom.

 Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Taller plants may need support, particularly when grown in part shade locations.
   Seeds rattle around in the blackened pods which were once popularly used by children as rattles.
  Stems with seed pods are valued additions to dried flower arrangements.
  Trimming or shearing foliage after bloom helps maintain rounded plant appearance and obviates a possible need for staking.
 Further Information

 Wisconsin Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
 8 Dandelion Recipes
 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries

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