April - July
0.5 - 2.0
Differentiated from other Baptisias by its white flowers on erect, narrow racemes, its elongated pods which are black to dark brown at maturity and easily crushed by hand, and the dark purple to black color of the newly emerging, asparagus-like shoots.
Baptisias like full sun but are tolerant of some shade. Seed is the best method to propagate this perennial. The seed pods should be collected 1 - 1 1/2 months after flowering (April-August), when they turn black. The pods of white wild-indigo are easily crushed by hand. The seeds can then be removed by screening or winnowing. If insects are present, place the the seeds in a plastic bag with small piece of no-pest-strip for 1-2 weeks. When growing in containers, soak the seeds overnight before sowing. When planting where the plants are to grow, sowing in winter to early spring is best. Germination can be sporatic (Phillips 1985). Prefers wet mesic to dry sites with sandy soils (but will grow in clay) and a pH range of 6.5-7. Stratification for 10 days and scarification are recommended for other Baptisia species (Shirley 1994, Steffen 1997) but do not seem to be necessary for B. leucantha (Shirley 1994). Seeds can be planted in spring or fall and benefit from innoculation with Baptisia rhizobium before planting. They can also be planted in a greenhouse then transplanted to the restoration in the fall or winter. Plants bloom in 4-5 years from seed. Seedlings are sensitive to overwatering and should be allowed to dry out between waterings. There are approximately 25,600 - 31,000 seed/lb and the recommended planting rate is 28 lbs/acre. The root stocks of Baptisia pendula can be divided in the fall and this may apply to Baptisia alba. Shirly (1994) recommends dividing young plants in the early spring. Seed burro screens 12/64 > 8/64 x 3/8.
Popular with bumblebees and some butterflies.
Prairies, moist woods, and roadsides in Texas and Louisiana.
The common name "wild-indigo" comes from the fact that an indigo-like dye can be produced when Baptisias are steeped in water and allowed to ferment.