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Plant Information

Scientific Name: Baptisia australis
Alternative Names: Blue, Wild Indigo

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Baptisia australis
Baptisia australis


  • Perennial
  • False Indigo, also called Blue Wild Indigo is a native North American wildflower.
  • The common name "false indigo" is derived from it being used as a substitute for the superior dye produced by the plant Indigofera tinctoria.
  • It is a hardy, upright perennial shrub that can grow up to 1m tall.
  • False Indigo has deep taproots (that when dug up, are woody and black) and glabrous stems that, if they are broken, will secrete a sap that turns a dark blue upon contact to the air.
  • It has alternately arranged blue-green clover-like trifoliate leaves and vivid blue, pea-like blossoms that start as plump, tight buds that are borne on long racemes.
  • The flowers change into bluish black inflated and hardened pods that range from 2.5 to 7.5 cm in length.
  • At maturity they will contain yellowish brown, kidney shaped seeds.
  • False Indigo requires little maintenance - but it will take at least 2 years to really start blooming.
  • It is drought tolerant once established and need full sun.
  • False Indigo is not particular about soil pH, but will do best in a soil that is neutral to slightly acidic.
  • Cut back after flowering - in temperate regions they will die back in winter.
  • False Indigo is attractive to butterflies.

Parts Used

  • The root bark is harvested in autumn.

Medicinal Uses. It is said that

  • Native Americans used False Indigo as an antiseptic, anti-catarrhal, febrifuge and stimulant purgative.
  • They used it to stimulate immune responses to infection, treat ear, nose and throat problems, laryngitis, tonsillitis, as a wash for mouth ulcers and as a douche for leucorrhea.
  • A cold tea was given to stop vomiting, a root poultice was used as an anti-inflammatory and bits of the root were held in the mouth to treat toothaches.
  • Today False Indigo is used to treat infection of the upper respiratory tract, common colds, tonsillitis, inflammation of the mucous membrane, fever, ointment for painless ulcers and inflamed nipples.
  • Do not over-medicate as it will produce vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal complaints and spasms - only use False Indigo under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.
  • False Indigo is not for long term use and not to be used if pregnant.

For Animals. It is said that

  • False Indigo is said to repel flies when kept near farm animals.

Other Uses

  • False Indigo flowers and seed pods are popular in flower arrangements.
  • Native Americans use it as a source of blue dye.
The information contained within this website is for educational purposes only. This site merely recounts the traditional uses of specific plants as recorded through history. Always seek advice from a medical practitioner.

Mountain Herb Estate, and its representatives will not be held responsible for the improper use of any plants or documentation provided. By use of this site and the information contained herein you agree to hold harmless Mountain Herb Estate, its affiliates and staff
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