Baptisia alba (fka Baptisia leucantha) is one of the most memorable plants on sand prairies in the Chicago region. As the May sun begins to warm the earth, the thick shoots of this plant burst forth, looking like asparagus.
This plant is very frost sensitive, turning black and withering on nights when even tomato plants would soon recover.
If not frosted, they soon form the showing white spikes of pea-like flower pictured here. If frosted early, it will soon send up new shoots from its perennial root. The flowers are often eaten by deer.
As the summer progresses, black pods form on the flowering stalks, often infested by weevils. The foliage is also impressive, forming a bush of thick, glaucous succulent leaves.