Apalachicola Wild Indigo



Botanical Name:  Baptisia megacarpa

Common Name:  Apalachicola Wild Indigo

Description:  This is a beautiful and very hard to find Florida native perennial. It’s a state-endangered species found only in six counties the north Florida Panhandle, along with some areas in Georgia and Alabama.

The drooping flower clusters are up to 6 inches long and comprised of about a dozen individual flowers.  Each flower is creamy white, but with a definite yellowish cast.  This easily distinguishes it from Florida’s other two white-flowered species. They flower in April – May. It has smooth, stout, erect stems, 2 – 3′ tall, with many zigzag branches forming a bushy crown. The leaves have 3 oval, blunt-tipped leaflets, each 1.5 – 3.5 inches long. Flower clusters are 2 – 6 inches long, drooping, with 2 – 15  flowers. Flowers are up to 0.8 inch long, typical of pea flowers with an upper banner petal and 2 wing petals partly enclosing a keel petal. Fruit is a pale green, drooping, oval, inflated pod, up to 1.6 inches long and 1 inch wide, thin-walled, papery, covered with a network of raised veins, becoming brittle and light brown as it dries. It reproduces by seeds, and does not spread clonally. It has a stout/deep taproot. The undersides of the leaflets are silvery.

It prefers a moist but well-draining sandy soil in sun, part sun, or part shade. Once established, plants are drought tolerant.

Native Habitat:  Mixed-hardwood and hardwood-pine forests, usually near a floodplain or ravine. About 20 extant sites. Known occurrences have several potential threats, from site specific logging, collecting or inundation caused by water management to more ecosystem-wide threats such as invasive, non-native species. If you see it growing in the wild, please just look and don’t disturb it.

The flowers attract native bees, bumble bees, and other beneficial insects.

This plant in 1-gallon containers is 5-15″ tall.

Plant Lore:  Leaves and stems of all Baptisia species contain compounds (quinolizidines) that are poisonous to insects and grazing animals.

Florida Hardiness Zones 8 – 9

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