(bap-tease' ee-ah)

Common name: False Indigo

Family: Fabaceae, Bean or Pea

Height x width: 2-4' x 1-4'

Growth rate: slow

Foliage: alternate, gray-green, 3-parted compound leaves, some with stipules (small, leaf-like structures) as leaf bases

Flowers: white, yellow or blue pea-like flowers in racemes

Hardiness: zones 3-5 through 8

Soil: prefer deep and rich, well-drained, tolerate poor,

Light: sun

Pests and problems: few, voles

Landscape habit, uses: herbaceous shrub in borders, specimen, nice dark brown pods with seeds rattling inside add nice fall interest

Other interest: genus name from Greek bapto meaning to dip, refering to past use as substitute dye for indigo; Prairieblues series from Chicagoland Grows, bred by Jim Ault at Chicago Botanic Garden; other major breeder is Tony Avent, Plant Delights Nursery, NC

Other culture: resents transplanting

Propagation: seeds, division, cuttings


alba (al' ba)--White Wild Indigo, zones 5-8, 2-3' x 3', 12-20" long racemes of white flowers in late spring for 3-4 weeks, cylindrical fruit bluish white leaves with no stipules, less leaf diseases than other species

australis (aus-tral' iss)--False Blue Indigo, zones 3-8, 3-4' x 6', indigo blue flowers in spring for 4 weeks, brown to black seed pods mid-summer through fall, stake if not in full sun; Perennial Plant of the Year for 2010

bracteata (brac-tee-ah' tah)--similar to alba only more spreading, more pendulous, more pubescent, large persistent stipules

lactea (lac-tee' ah)--Prairie False Indigo, native to Midwest and Plains, upright white racems in late spring, blue-green foliage, stipules fall off, broad fruit

leucantha: lactea

leucophaea: bracteata

minor (my' nor)--Lesser Wild Indigo, similar to australis only half the size, often offered as a cultivar of australis

sphaerocarpa (sphair-o-car' pah)--zones 5-8, similar to tinctoria, light yellow flowers, blue-green foliage, native to Arkansas and Oklahoma

tinctoria (teenc-tore' ee-ah)--Yellow Wild Indigo, zones 5-8, 2-4' x 1', variously yellow 4-20 flowers in 4-5" arching racemes, for sunny meadow or informal garden

villosa: bracteata

Cultivars: (hybrids unless noted)
Cultivars, other taxa species flowers other
'Carolina Moonlight' sphaerocarpa x alba light yellow from NC bot. garden
'Midnite Prairieblues' complex hybrid deep blue-violet long bloom period
'Pendula' alba white pendulous seedpods
'Purple Smoke' australis x alba smokey blue  
 'Screaming Yellow'  sphaerocarpa bright yellow  
'Solar Flare Prairieblues' complex hybrid yellow turning orange
'Starlite Prairieblues' australis x bracteata blue/cream keel
'Twilite Prairieblues' australis x sphaerocarpa violet purple/cream keel

(Carolina Moonlight photo courtesy thelibrarian2003,

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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