Index- plants in this Family
Fabaceae / Pea
Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis)
Blue Wild Indigo is also known as Blue False Indigo.

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 150cm in height (60inches).
Leaves: The leaves are alternate. Each leaf is divided into three leaflets.
Flowers: The flowers are irregular in shape and are up to 2.7cm long (1 inches). They are blue or violet. Blooms first appear in late spring and continue into early summer. The flowers are in showy racemes.
Fruit: Thick erect pods with long curved beak and often with woody pericarp.
Habitat: Rich, moist, well drained woods. Usually rocky soil.
Range: From Nebraska to New Hampshire south to north Georgia west to Texas.

      Color Photo     More Info      Classification

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The leaves and pods of this genus turn black upon drying. As the name might suggest the plant was used by the Cherokee to make a blue dye.

Medical Uses: Native Americans used this plant to treat toothache. The Cherokee woul hold hot tea, root tea or beaten root on the painfull tooth. They used a poultice to treat inflammation. It seems contridictory but a hot tea was used as a purgative and a cold tea to prevent vomiting. Baptisia species are being investigated as an immune system stimulant. WARNING: some sources consider this species toxic.

Similar Species: There are many Baptisia species in our area but this is the only one with blue flowers.

See the links below this image for other images. (2)
© Darel Hess   E-mail      Image use policy

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Baptisia australis - fruit and leaves  © Darel Hess
Baptisia australis - close view of flower  © Darel Hess

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves


Wild or False Indigo

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