The record for medicinal uses (record [
]) was under the name Baptisia leucophaea - this taxon is often recognised as a var of Baptisia bracteata (as Baptisia bracteata var. leucophaea (Nutt.) Kartesz & Gandhi) - a treatment we are following here. However, B. L. Turner, in 'Overview of the genus Baptisia (Leguminosae)'; (Phytologia) 88:257; 2006 has treated Baptisia leucophaea as a closely related but distinct taxon. We are currently (2016) awaiting the on-line publication of the Flora of N. America in order to see how it has been treated there before making a decision whether or not to resurrect the species. Even if resurrected, it is most likely that the uses listed below will also apply to Baptisia bracteata simply because the species are so closely related[
Baptisia bushii Small
Baptisia cuneata Small
Baptisia laevicaulis (Canby) Small
Baptisia leucophaea Nutt.
Baptisia oxyphylla Greene
Baptisia saligna Greene
Lasinia bracteata Raf.
Podalyria bracteata Muhl.
Common Name: Plains Wild Indigo
Baptisia bracteata is a spreading to ascending herbaceous perennial plant producing a cluster of drooping stems; it can grow around 70cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental in gardens.
Most, if not all, of the various species of Baptisia contain the toxic compounds baptisin and cytisine. The toxicity is fairly low, but eating the plants can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea[
Eastern N. America - South Dakota to Massachusets, south to Texas and Georgia
] on prairies[
]. Sandy open woods, prairies, pastures and roadsides in Texas[
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Hardy to about -20°c[
Prefers a deep, well-drained neutral to slightly acid soil in full sun[
]. Grows freely in a loamy soil[
]. Succeeds in a hot dry position. Succeeds in a rich moist soil in sun or light shade[
]. Tolerant of poor soils[
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
Plants have a very deep root system and dislike root disturbance, they should be left alone once they are established[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
The following uses were originally listed for Baptisia leucophaea, a species now often treated as a var of Baptisia bacteata. See nomenclature notes above.
An ointment made from the ground seeds is applied to the stomach in the treatment of colic[
A tea made from the roots is used in the treatment of typhoid and scarlet fever[
The leaves are astringent and are applied externally to wounds etc[
Recent research suggests that the plant can stimulate the immune system[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[
]. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water and then sown in a cold frame in late winter or early spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer or following spring.
Division in spring[
]. Larger divisions can be planted straight into their permanent positions whilst smaller clumps are best potted up and kept in a cold frame until they are growing away well.