Baptisia lactea (White Wild Indigo)

Plant Info
Also known as: White False Indigo, Large-leaf Wild Indigo
Genus:Baptisia
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Status:
  • State Special Concern
Habitat:sun; dry to average moisture, prairies, savannas, open woods
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:2 to 4 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Loose spike-like racemes up to 18 inches long of pea-shaped flowers at the ends of branching stems. Flowers are ¾ to 1 inch long, white with a purple splotch at base of upper petal (standard); petals are positioned forward, the upper standard deeply lobed in the middle, folded up and back on the sides. The lateral wings below it are oval to oblong, tightly flanking a similar keel nearly obscured underneath, hiding several orange stamens. The calyx holding the flower is tubular, blueish green with a waxy sheen and short stalk.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound Leaf type: palmate

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in groups of three, on a short stalk. Leaflets are 1 to 2 inches long, ½ to 1 inch wide, toothless, hairless, oblong, rounded at the tip, tapered at the base, and blacken with age. A pair of narrow, sharply pointed leaf-like appendages (stipules), as long as the leaf stalk or shorter, are attached at the leaf joint. Stems and branches are stout and ascending, smooth waxy bluish green, with multiple erect branches,

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a round cylindrical pod about ¾ inch long, with a spiked tip and on a long stalk, emerging from the calyx tube. The pods ripen from green to dark purplish black.

Notes:

Both Wild White Indigo and Minnesota's other native wild indigo species, Plains Wild Indigo (Baptisia bracteata), are found in our SE counties and both are listed as state Special Concern species due to loss of habitat primarily to agriculture. Both are also showing up widely in native seed plantings and garden centers. Easy to grow from seed, both are must-haves and are durable perennials in the home lakescape making for showing specimen displays, B. lactea doing better in heavier soils and B. bracteata preferring sandier soil. B. lactea is more commonly known as Baptisia alba var. macrophylla, occasionally Baptisia leucantha, but B. lactea is the accepted name in Minnesota.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Minnesota Native Plant Society

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Itasca Ladyslipper Farm - Native orchids, container grown
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at PrairieMoon.com!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Battle Creek Regional Park, St Paul. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in an Anoka county home landscape and in Fillmore county.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Eric - St. Cloud
on: 2011-07-28 08:19:00

I did a front yard prairie restoration of sorts. I have two of these plants growing within the native beds. Kind of fun to see.

Posted by: Linda - Thompson Lake County Park, West St Paul, Dakota County
on: 2012-06-14 17:55:27

This plant is blooming right now in Thompson Lake County Park in West St Paul. It's near the south end of the lake, where the paved lakeside walking path devolves to a mowed path that heads off to the east. There are several small patches of plants in bloom, and a number of small seedlings, so it appears the population is increasing in that spot. While there are still a lot of non-natives in this park, some effort has been made to preserve and introduce more native plants, especially in some of the shoreline stabilization/restoration done by Dan Isensee's group, Blue Thumb.

Posted by: Abrahm - Afton State Park
on: 2012-06-24 17:18:55

There are many of these blooming in the prairie restoration area currently (6/24/12) near the visitor center.

Posted by: Elizabeth - Fort Dodge, IOWA
on: 2012-08-13 23:02:02

I recently collected some of the pods from this flower for their seeds so I could plant them in my prairie restoration project I have in my yard. I am wondering should I scatter/plant the seeds this fall or wait until spring? Thanks so much,

Posted by: Robin - Northwood Park, New Hope
on: 2013-06-25 17:39:37

Blooming along the creek edges.

Posted by: Forster & Ina - Northfield
on: 2014-07-01 21:03:06

This plant grows freely on the St.Olaf prairie, the Lashbrook Park prairie, and the Spring Creek Soccer complex. We plan to add it to our yard soon.

Posted by: David - Zumbro Falls
on: 2014-07-09 04:43:20

I had a couple of plants on the property 4 years ago, and never mowed or burned that area. I now have at least 15 plants in a 1/4 acre area, and just love their long lasting blooms and delicate foliage. The seed pods seem to get scattered naturally, but perhaps some hand planting in the Fall would help. The plant seems to spring up in the same spot year after year. Dave

Posted by: Debbie - Mora
on: 2014-07-31 18:30:52

We restored 40 acres of native prairie on our farm, and we now have this growing in one of our fields.

Posted by: Kristin - Battle Creek Park, St. Paul
on: 2015-06-11 22:09:09

Saw these lovely plants on a high bluff above Lower Afton Rd. I see they are common in restorations -- is this a remnant?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-06-12 05:41:33

Kristin, that should be a native remnant at Battle Creek park.

Posted by: Greg - Dodge Center
on: 2015-08-18 20:46:15

I walk my dog in the Triton High School Nature Preserve. Have noted several of these plants. Each late fall someone cuts them and turns them upside down. Guessing for natural propagation? How does one plant the seeds which I presume come from the blackened pods? Would like to start some at the lake. Any help? Thanks

Posted by: Louise B - Dakota County, MN
on: 2017-06-09 12:56:22

Two years ago my blue/purple Baptisia did not come up. I had purchased a yellow and a blue plant on a trip with my master gardener group a number of years ago. I tried growing seeds from pods with no success. I loved these plants and was so happy to see the post regarding the plants around Thompson Lake Park in West St. Paul since I live very near there. The post is 5 years old but I hope there is a wave of blue Baptisia near the lake--maybe I can get a replacement.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.



(required)




Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.