This false indigo hybrid (B. australis x B. alba) is a shrubby perennial native to the United States. It features smoky violet, lupine-like flowers (from B. australis) and gray-green, clover-like foliage on charcoal stems (from B. alba). Flowers appear in mid-spring and give way to cylindrical, bean-like seed pods which have good ornamental interest sometimes used in dried flower arrangements. Native Americans used the pods as rattles to amuse their babies and they used the flowers to make blue dyes. The common name of false indigo is in reference to the fact that the dyes made from Baptisia (Baptisia originates from the Greek word bapto, to dip or to dye) are quite inferior to the dyes derived from the true indigos (genus Indigofera) which usually grow in more tropical areas such as the West Indies.
These perennials are deer resistant, heat and humidity tolerant, and drought tolerant once established. They are excellent, attractive, low-maintenance plants.
Photos by Sue Dunn