Edge of the Prairiethe sand prairies and savannas of the Chicago region

    Baptisia alba
    White Indigo

Baptisia alba on a sand prairie in Starke County, IndianaBaptisia 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.

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Baptisia alba in pod forming stage, photographed at Lena Park in Starke County, Indiana in mid July, 2001. [120k]

All photographs by Marty Lucas and © Becknell and Lucas Media, Ltd. Students may freely use these images in school reports not for publication without requesting permission. Others, please request permission by writing e-mail to Marty Lucas. Requests for uses aiding in the understanding and appreciation of prairies and native plants are routinely granted. Higher resolution photographs (sans copyright notice) suitable for printing are available for purchase.


USDA Plan Profile for Baptisia alba.

Baptisia alba on Wisconsin's "Plant of the Week".

Baptisia alba is listed as a 'best indicator' plant for identification of restorable oak savanna sites by Brian Pruka.

Baptisia alba: on Atlas of Wisconsin Prairie and Savanna Flora.

White Indigo on Easyliving Native Perennial Wildflowers.


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