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Blue Wild-indigo

Photo by Iralee Barnard

Common Name: Blue Wild-indigo

Scientific Name: Baptisia australis

Family: Bean

Longevity: Perennial

Height: 2 - 3 feet

Bloom Period: May and June


Description: Stems and leaves are smooth and covered with a thin, whitish, waxy coating. Leaves are alternate and have three leaflets. Spreading branches are topped with an upright flower spike and large, pea-like blue to lavender flowers.

Comments: While still standing, the entire plant turns black when it dries. The large seed pods are distinctive and conspicuous especially when black. Open a ripe seed pod, and you may not find seeds but possibly the larva of the wild indigo weevil. Blue Wild-indigo is avoided by cattle and deer because it is toxic. It is found in the eastern two-thirds of Kansas on open prairies. A related species, Plains Wild-indigo, has hairy leaves and stems and bears cream to yellow flowers that cascade from the sides of the plant.

Blue Wild-indigo seed pods
Photo by Iralee Barnard