Wild blue indigo, Baptisia australis

Wild blue indigo, also known as false blue indigo, is as beautiful as it is generous. Its scientific name is Baptisia australis, and it is one of the first plants that I learned how to collect seeds from.

It blooms early in the spring, and feeds hungry bumblebees searching for nectar and pollen. But botanically, it is a plant that offers year-round interest. For one thing, it’s inedible seed pods are luscious and green. And then, gradually, as they lose moisture they turn gray, and the seeds inside them are great for making natural rattles.

Of course, the seeds inside them are tangible proof of spring’s pollinations. And since they are large and visible and easy to handle, it is great fun to collect them and plant them.

In one year, we collected several thousand seeds from just five or six clumps of wild blue indigo outside the greenhouse. And the seeds themselves are hardy. If stored in a cool dry place and protected from mold, we have successfully germinated wild blue indigo seeds from 2006 that looked much thinner and neglected than their plumper 2008 counterparts.

 

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