Baptisia bracteata var leucophaea (Nutt.) Kartesz & Gandhi

Cream White Indigo

Baptisia leucophea plant

Family - Fabaceae

Stems - To +40cm tall, from thick caudex, villous to glabrous and glaucous, herbaceous, branching divaricately or divergently.

Baptisia luecophea stemA villous stem.

Leaves - Alternate, palmately 3-lobed, sessile to short petiolate(the petiole winged), stipulate. Stipules to -4cm long, 2cm broad, lanceolate-attenuate, ciliate margined, pubescent to glabrous. Lobes of leaves to +6cm long, +1.5cm broad, oblanceolate to spatulate, pubescent to glabrous.

Baptisia luecophea leaf

Inflorescence - Terminal-horizontally spreading raceme to +25cm long. Flowers secund to top of axis. Each flower subtended by a single, ovate-lanceolate, foliaceous bract. Pedicels to +2.5cm long, hirsute to glabrous.

Flowers - Corolla papilionaceous, yellow. Standard to -3cm broad, +2cm long. Stamens 10, free. Filaments to 2cm long, glabrous, greenish-white. Anthers orange-yellow, 2mm long. Ovary terete, dense antrorse pubescent, tapering at apex. Calyx tubular, bilabiate. Calyx tube to 6mm long, pubescent externally(sometimes very sparse), internally lanate at apex and glabrous at base. Upper lip of calyx single-lobed. Lobe with notch at apex, 5mm long. Lower lip 3-lobed. Lobes 4mm long, deltoid.

Baptisia luecophea flowerCorolla.

Baptisia luecophea calyxCalyx.

Fruit - Inflated pod to 5cm long, pubescent, with tapered beak.

Baptisia luecophea fruit

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Prairies, rocky open woods.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This is a fairly low growing plant which is easily spotted in the late spring growing along roadside prairies and open woods. The yellow horizontal inflorescences are unmistakable.
Steyermark lists two varieties for the plant. Variety leucophaea has pubescent stems and leaves. Variety glabrescens Larisey has stems which are glabrous and often glaucous, and leaves which are glabrous but still have ciliate margins. Variety glabrescens is also found more in the eastern half of the state.

A synonym for the plant is B. bracteata Muhl. var glabrescens (Larisely) Isely

Photographs taken in the Hercules Glade Wilderness, Mark Twain National Forest, Taney County, 5-12-00, and at Whetstone Creek Conservation Area, Callaway County, MO., 4-27-04.