Baptisia lactea (White Wild Indigo)
|Also known as:||White False Indigo, Large-leaf Wild Indigo|
|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):|
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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:
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,
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.
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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.
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