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Baptisia tinctoria

Baptisia tinctoria (L.) R. Br.

Baptisia gibbesii Small

Baptisia tinctoria (L.) R. Br. var. crebra Fernald

Baptisia tinctoria (L.) R. Br. var. projecta Fernald

Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFabalesLegumes (pea and bean families)
FamilyFabaceaeLegume family (peas and beans)
GenusBaptisiaFrom Greek baptizein, “to dye,” because members of this genus were used to prepare dye
SpeciestinctoriaDerived from Latin tinctura, “dyeing”: A plant that produces a color or stain when broken

About plant names...

Yellow false indigo’s scientific name (both Baptisia and tinctoria mean “dye”) derives from its use as an inferior substitute for real indigo, an unrelated plant, for the manufacture of dye. Wild indigo is a native of North America.

Identification: Wild indigo is multiply branched and somewhat unruly, sometimes matted in appearance, 12-36" (30-91 cm) high. In Martha’s Vineyard, MA, it forms a ball-shaped cluster that breaks off when it dries out in the fall and rolls around like tumbleweed. Leaves are alternate, silvery green, in triplets similar to clover. Each leaflet is ¼" (6.3 mm) long. Clusters of yellow, pea-like flowers appear in July.

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

The individual leaves are similar to those of clover, but the shape of the 3-leaf cluster is characteristic of wild indigo.

Edibility: Poisonous Skull & Crossbones:

Physiological Action—When fresh and taken in a sufficiently large dose Baptisia causes violent vomiting and purging. In poisonous doses there is an acceleration of respiration and reflex activity followed by death from central paralytic asphyxia.[1]

Online References:

Baptisia tinctoria at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Baptisia tinctoria on Henriette’s Herbal Homepage

Baptisia tinctoria on Wikipedia

Baptisia tinctoria on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Baptisia tinctoria at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Baptisia tinctoria on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

8/4/2009 · Near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 3½ × 5" (9.3 × 12 cm) ID is uncertain

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

7/16/2013 · Near North Middlesex High School, Townsend, MA
≈ 4 × 2½" (10 × 7.1 cm)

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

5/22/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 9 × 14" (23 × 35 cm)

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

7/16/2013 · Near North Middlesex High School, Townsend, MA
≈ 3½ × 3" (9.4 × 7.6 cm)

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

5/22/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (22 × 14 cm)

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

8/6/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm) ID is uncertain

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

7/16/2013 · Near North Middlesex High School, Townsend, MA
≈ 4 × 2½" (10 × 7.1 cm)

1From henriettesherbal.com

Baptisia tinctoria description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

7/16/2013 · Near North Middlesex High School, Townsend, MA
≈ 3½ × 2½" (9.4 × 6.3 cm)

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

8/6/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (22 × 14 cm) ID is uncertain

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

6/27/2012 · Near North Middlesex High School, Townsend, MA
≈ 4½ × 3" (11 × 8 cm)

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

5/22/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 21 × 31" (52 × 78 cm)

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

6/14/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 9 × 8" (23 × 19 cm) ID is uncertain

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

7/14/2013 · Ball Hill Trail, Leominster State Forest, Leominster, MA
≈ 6 × 4½" (14 × 12 cm)

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

8/4/2009 · Near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 4 × 3" (10 × 8.5 cm) ID is uncertain

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

7/14/2013 · Ball Hill Trail, Leominster State Forest, Leominster, MA
≈ 4 × 3½" (10 × 9.4 cm)

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

8/30/2010 · Proctor Rd, near 119, Townsend, MA
≈ 4½ × 7" (11 × 17 cm)

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

7/16/2013 · Near North Middlesex High School, Townsend, MA
≈ 4 × 2½" (11 × 7.3 cm)

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

6/27/2012 · Near North Middlesex High School, Townsend, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm)

Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo, Yellow False Indigo, Horseflyweed, Horsefly Weed)

6/27/2012 · Near North Middlesex High School, Townsend, MA
≈ 5 × 3½" (13 × 9.2 cm)

Range: Zones 3-9:

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