Wild White Indigo, White False Indigo, Largeleaf Wild Indigo
(Baptisia alba var. macrophylla)
Synonyms of Baptisia alba (L.) R.Br. (4) (Updated on 1-4-22 from Plants of the World Online): Crotalaria alba L., Podalyria alba (L.) Willd., Sophora alba (L.) L., Sophora glauca Salisb.
Synonyms of Baptisia alba var. alba (autonym) (7) (Updated on 1-4-22 from POWO): Baptisia albiflora Raf., Baptisia lactea var. obovata (Larisey) Isely, Baptisia lactea var. pendula (Larisey) B.L.Turner, Baptisia pendula Larisey, Baptisia pendula var. obovata Larisey, Baptisia psammophila Larisey, Eaplosia longifolia Raf.
Synonyms of Baptisia alba var. macrophylla (Larisey) Isely (7) (Updated on 11-23-21 from Plants of the World Online): Baptisia alba Hook. (nom. inval.), Baptisia lactea (Raf.) Thieret, Baptisia leucantha Torr. & A.Gray, Baptisia leucantha var. divaricata Larisey, Baptisia leucantha var. pauciflora Larisey, Baptisia pendula var. macrophylla Larisey, Dolichos lacteus Raf.
Baptisia alba (L.) R.Br. is the accepted scientific name for this species of Baptisia. It was named and described as such by Robert Brown in Hortus Kewensis in 1811. It was previously named and described as Crotalaria alba by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Accepted Infraspecific Names (2) (Updated on 1-4-22 from POWO): *Baptisia alba var. alba (autonym), Baptisia alba var. macrophylla (Larisey) Isely. *When infraspecific taxon are named, an autonym (“type-specimen”) is automatically generated whose description is closest to the (original) species. All have their own list of synonyms…
Baptisia alba var. macrophylla (Larisey) Isely is the accepted scientific name for the Baptisia on this page. According to the Missouri Plants website, Baptisia alba found in Missouri are assigned to this variety. It was named and described as such by Duane Isely in Sida (Contributions to Botany) in 1986. It was previously named and described as Baptisia pendula var. macrophylla by Mary Maxine Larisey in the Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1940.
The genus, Baptisia Vent., was named and described as such by Étienne Pierre Ventenat in Decas Generum Novorum in 1808.
NOTE: Mr. Ventenant was also the first to name and describe the species Baptisia alba (L.) Vent. in the same publication as the genus but for some reason, it was deemed “nom. inval.”, meaning it was invalidly published. Even so, a few websites and databases use Baptisia alba (L.) Vent. as the accepted scientific name. It is likely their sources didn’t get the memo. 🙂 What I find odd is several species he named in Decas Generum Novonum in 1808 were “nom. inval.” but the genera he named in the same publication were accepted… Hmmm…
As of 1-4-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 16 species in the Baptisia genus. It is a member of the plant family Fabaceae with 773 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
The distribution map above for Baptisia alba is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green are where the species is native. The map on the USDA Plants Database for the United States and Canada is somewhat different. You can click on the link to see the range of the subordinate taxon. Baptisia alba var. alba is only found in a few southern states.
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND FOR A BETTER POSITIVE ID.
I was driving on a back road coming back from a friend’s house on July 1 in 2018 and almost ran off the road when I saw this small colony of Baptisia. I had to go back home and get my camera to take photos… Of all the back roads and highways I have been on, this was the first time I have seen them. Unfortunately, they have been keeping the right-of-way mowed since so they haven’t been allowed to grow. According to the Missouri Plants website, all Baptisia alba in Missouri are assigned to the variety Baptisia alba var. macrophylla. I don’t see many Baptisia alba so they are always a great find.
Baptisia alba is an attractive perennial plant that can grow 3-6’ tall in favorable conditions. They grow from thick, deep, woody taproots with rhizomes that may form offsets. Baptisia species do not like to be disturbed once established, so if you want these for your flower beds or native habitat, it is best to buy plants or seeds. Baptisia increases nitrogen levels in soil.
Baptisia prefer growing in full sun in just about any type of soil except alkaline. It may take several years for new plants to flower.
I was driving on a backroad going to a friend’s house on 7-20-21 and spotted a small colony of Baptisia alba var. macrophylla but I didn’t have my camera. I went back on 7-22 with my camera and took a few photos. They are not very common around here, at least not close by.
Stems terminate with a long inflorescence of flowers up to 24 “ long. They are typical pea-looking and have no scent. Plants flower from May-July.
The stems are smooth (glaucous), light green or purple (or green with purple), and produce side branches.
Flowers are replaced by pea-like pods that turn black.
Baptisia alba produces trifoliate leaves with long petioles (leaf stems).
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 100 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at email@example.com. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES/VAR.)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES/VAR.)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES/VAR.)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE (SPECIES/VAR.)
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN (SPECIES/VAR.)
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
LADY BIRD JOHNSON WILDFLOWER CENTER (SPECIES/VAR.)
FRIENDS OF THE WILDFLOWER GARDEN
CHICAGO BOTANIC GARDEN
U.S. FOREST SERVICE
FLORA OF WISCONSIN
KANSAS NATIVE PLANTS
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
FLORIDA WILDFLOWER FOUNDATION
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂