Baptisia nuttalliana

nuttall's wild-indigo


Leaf Arrangement


Leaf Attachment

petiolate, sessile

Leaf Type


Growth Form


Flower Color


Flower Month

April - June

Height (meters)

0.4 - 1.2

Milky Sap








Growing Season

Warm season

Prairie Coefficient of Conservatism


Field Characters

Similar to Baptisia spherocarpa but covered with fine hairs. Flowers are mostly axillary rather than terminal as in B. spherocarpon. Baptisia bracteata var. leucophaea also has yellow flowers but they are pale yellow and the plant is low growing with drooping inflorescences.

Cultural Information

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, and the seeds removed. When infected with beetles, ants or other insects, place the seeds in a plastic bag with a small piece of no-pest-strip for 2 weeks. When growing in containers, soak the seeds overnight before sowing and germinate at about 70 degrees F. When planting seeds in the ground fall to winter is best. Germination is sporatic (Phillips 1985). Stratification for 10 days and scarification improves germination (Shirley 1994, Steffen 1997). Seedlings are sensitive to overwatering and should be allowed to dry out between waterings. Baptisia benefit from innoculation at planting time with an innoculant specific to Baptisia.

Animal Use

Some species of Baptisia are reportedly poisonous to livestock. Nuttall wildindigo is suspect but cattle seldom eat it, even on heavily grazed range.

Natural History

Frequently found in sandy loam soils, in woodlands, of central and north Louisiana and southeast Texas. Occasionally hybridizes with B. leucophaea. 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. Grelen and Hughes (1984) report that it is most abundant on heavily grazed pasture and rare in pinewood cutovers, possibly due to competition from native grasses.


Woodlands and sandy loam.