white wild indigo

(Baptisia alba var. macrophylla)

Conservation Status
white wild indigo
 
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S3 - Vulnerable

     
  Minnesota

Special Concern

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland

     
  Midwest

FACU - Facultative upland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

White wild indigo is a 40 to 80 tall, erect, long-lived, perennial forb that rises from a deep taproot and rhizomes.

The stems are unbranched in the middle and below, with ascending branches near the top below the inflorescence. They are light green or reddish-purple, hairless, and covered with a whitish, waxy bloom (glaucous).

The leaves are alternate and on leaf stalks that are a little over ¼ to ½ long. There are a pair of 3 16 to long, leaf-like appendages (stipules) at the base of the leaf stalk. The stipules are usually deciduous, with some falling off as the plant matures, but usually a few remaining on the plant at maturity. The leaves are divided into 3 leaflets. The leaflets are inversely lance-shaped or inversely narrowly egg-shaped, attached at the narrower end. They are 1¼ to 2 long, and up to ¾ wide. The upper side grayish-green or bluish-green and hairless. The underside is paler, hairless and glaucous. The margins are untoothed.

The inflorescence is an erect, 8 to 24 long, spike-like cluster (raceme) of large, showy flowers at the end of the stem and branches. The central raceme is longer than the lateral ones. Below the inflorescence there are small, leaf-like appendages (bracts). The bracts are ¼ to ½ long and fall before or when the plant is in flower.

The individual flowers are ½ to ¾ long and white. They are on to long flower stalks. There are 5 green sepals united at the base into a cylinder-shaped, 5 16 long calyx tube, then separated at the tip into an upper and a lower lip. The upper lip is unlobed or notched. The lower lip is divided into 3 triangular lobes. There are 5 white petals. The petals form a butterfly-like corolla, as is typical of plants in the Pea family. They are organized into a broad banner petal at the top, two narrower, lateral, wing petals, and between the wings two petals fused into a keel. The banner is upright, folded back along the edges, notched in the middle, and shorter than the wings or keel. The wings and keel are straight. There are 10 stamens. The stamens are distinct, not fused together. The flowers are pollinated by bumble bees (Bombus spp.). There is no fragrance.

The fruit is a large, drooping seedpod. It is ellipse-shaped to oblong, inflated, 1 to 1½ long, and 5 16 to ½ wide. It is green at first, turning brown as it ripens and black when it dries.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

40 to 80

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

White

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  Plains wild indigo (Baptisia bracteata var. leucophaea) is a much smaller plant, no more than 24 in height at maturity. The stipules are larger, to 1¼ long, and are persistent, remaining on the plant at maturity. The floral bracts are much larger, to 1¼ long, and remain on the plant at maturity. The flowers are creamy yellow and appear earlier, May to June.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Dry to moderate moisture. Prairies, savannas, open, upland woods, railroads. Full to partial sun.

 
     
 
Ecology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

June to July

 
     
 
Use
 
 

White wild indigo seed is sometimes used in prairie restorations.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 28.

 
  12/26/2011      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Uncommon

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (dicots)  
  Subclass Rosidae  
  Superorder Rosanae  
 

Order

Fabales (legumes, milkworts, and allies)  
 

Family

Fabaceae (peas, legumes)  
  Subfamily Faboideae (Papilionoideae)  
  Tribe

Sophoreae

 
  Genus Baptisia (false indigo)  
  Species Baptisia alba (white wild indigo)  
       
 

The large false indigo with large white flowers common in the central states was traditionally referred to as Baptisia leucantha. The name B. alba was applied to a similar species in the southeast that has very different fruit and usually smaller flowers. In 1969 it was determined that the name Dolichos lacteus referred to the plant then being called B. leucantha. It was older and valid and therefore had precedence. The species was then given the name B. lactea. This new name was used in several works in the subsequent years, including the widely influential Gleason and Cronquist (1991). A review of the type specimen of Baptisia alba by B.L. Turner at the British Museum in 1982 showed that specimen to be the same as B. lactea. B. alba is older and therefore takes priority over both B. leucantha and B. lactea. The southeastern species was renamed B. albescens and the central states species became B. alba. In 2006 B.L. Turner attempted to restore the southeastern species to B. alba and the central states species B. lactea. His reinterpretation was complex and not clear. Today (4/1/2021), ITIS, GRIN, and the Minnesota DNR have adopted the name B. lactea. Almost all other authoritative taxonomic sources use the name B. alba, including USDA Plants, Flora of North America, Plants of the World Online, and World Flora Online.

 
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
       
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Baptisia albescens

Baptisia albiflora

Baptisia lactea

Baptisia lactea var. lactea

Baptisia lactea var. macrophylla

Baptisia leucantha

Baptisia leucantha var. divaricata

Baptisia leucantha var. pauciflora

Baptisia pedula macrophylla

Baptisia pendula var. macrophylla

Crotalaria alba

Podalyria alba

Sophora alba

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

largeleaf wild indigo

large-leaved wild indigo

milky white indigo

white wild indigo

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk or flower cluster.

 

Calyx

The flower cup. May be the group of outer floral leaves (sepals) collectively, or a tube with lobes.

 

Glaucous

Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.

 

Raceme

An unbranched, elongated inflorescence with stalked flowers. The flowers mature from the bottom up.

 

Rhizome

A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

 

Stipule

A small, leaf-like, scale-like, glandular, or rarely spiny appendage found at the base of a leaf stalk, usually occurring in pairs and usually dropping soon.

       
Visitor Photos
   

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Kirk Nelson
       

Found on the western end of McDonough Lake at the edge of what looks like a prairie restoration area. There were several groupings, so it looks like they were deliberately planted there.

  white wild indigo   white wild indigo
       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   

Plant

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Inflorescence

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Flowers

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Leaves

  white wild indigo    
       

Stem

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Infructescence

  white wild indigo   white wild indigo
       
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Developing Fruit

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Mature Fruit

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Winter

  white wild indigo   white wild indigo
       
       

 

Camera

     
Slideshows
   
  Baptisia lactea (White False Indigo)
Allen Chartier
 
  Baptisia lactea (White False Indigo)  
     
  Baptisia leucantha WHITE WILD INDIGO
Frank Mayfield
 
  Baptisia leucantha WHITE WILD INDIGO  

 

slideshow

       
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Other Videos
 
  White Wild Indigo (Baptisia leucantha)
PrairieMoonNursery
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jun 9, 2010

http://www.prairiemoon.com - Sometimes called Baptisia alba, White Wild Indigo is shown here at Prairie Moon Nursery.

   
       
  baptista alba video
Allan Armitage
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 15, 2013

   
       
  White Wild Indigo - Baptisia alba
adamitshelanu
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 30, 2014

White Wild Indigo - Baptisia alba

Somewhere in Randolph County, North Carolina ... Uncle Steve found a plant post-flowering and its mature seed pods that he has never seen before: White Wild Indigo

Baptisia alba
White False Indigo

   
       

 

Camcorder

         
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Kirk Nelson
6/24/2018

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Found on the western end of McDonough Lake at the edge of what looks like a prairie restoration area. There were several groupings, so it looks like they were deliberately planted there.

white wild indigo


     
     
 
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