Wild Indigo

Me and Indigo go way back. Check out the trail of posts that started with one about False Indigo. Today another chapter opens with Wild Indigo, Baptisia Tinctoria which I encountered for the first time, quite appropriately, growing wild.

We don't really see a lot of wildflowers here mainly because of the enormous rate of growth that happens. A patch of disturbed land might first have some grasses and wild flowers but then quite quickly yield shrubs and trees rapidly wiping out whatever preceded it. So wildflowers have oddly become the preserve of built  up urban wasteland, in particular abandoned properties especially if they have been torn down and there is rubble. Rubble ensures the poor thin soils that allow them to grow but not anything else more deep rooted.

Here in these urban sandy, stony pockets I have come across the usual suspects: Ironweed, Cyanthillium Cinereum, Celosia Argentea and this yellow flowered Wild Indigo - image on the left. The fact that it looked somewhat like my old friend, except with yellow flowers, made it easy to identify and I would occasionally stop to grab some seedpods to plant at home. I never got round to planting them but one day on a walk in the neighbourhood, I saw a few of them on a patch of abandoned land. I pulled a couple up by the roots and planted them straight into the garden when I got home. The image on the right is those plants, substantially taller than most of the specimens I've seen growing wild.

It apparently yields an indigo dye although inferior to other plants which makes me wonder what this North American native is doing here if not planted before for that purpose, most likely a garden escapee. I did see it once in a friends garden and asked some time later if she had seeds for it but she said the plant had disappeared. Perhaps thats what's in store for these guys in terms of longevity, but at least I know that there is abundant supply of it around the city.

All Posts: