Baptisia australis (L.) R. Br. - Wild Blue Indigo, Southern Blue Indigo

Baptisia australis plant

Family - Fabaceae

Stems - To 1.2m tall, branching, glabrous, glaucous.

Leaves - Alternate, trifoliolate, petiolate. Leaflets oblong, obovate, oblanceolate, or elliptic, to 4cm long, glabrous, glaucous. Stipules at base of petioles to 15mm long, acuminate.

Inflorescence - Terminal raceme to +40cm long.

Baptisia australis

Flowers - Papilionaceous, pedicillate. Corolla purple with some white, total length to +3cm. Stamens free.

Fruit - Inflated, to 6cm long, 1-2cm in diameter, with small beak.

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Slopes, glades, rocky prairies. Also cultivated.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - The leaves of this and other species of Baptisia turn black quickly upon being picked. The seeds inside the inflated fruit rattle nicely if the pod is dry. Many a scout have been spooked into thinking rattlesnakes were close by with this plant.

Photographs taken at the Kansas City Zoo, 5-7-99.


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