Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Tall Blue Wild Indigo - Baptisia australis   (L.) R. Brown
Members of Fabaceae:
Members of Baptisia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Fabales » Family Fabaceae
Author(L.) R. Brown
DistributionSpecimens from Jackson and Transylvania counties are referred to this species, but might well be not native there. Photos from proper habitat -- scour zone of a rocky river -- in Yancey County in 2021 might well relate to a natural population. Others from Cabarrus, Caswell, Durham, Granville, Orange, Person, and Stanly counties, and probably also Davidson, are referred to the local native B. aberrans.

Native mostly west of the Appalachians; however, it does seem to be native at some montane and Piedmont sites in VA and north to PA.
AbundanceVery rare and limited to the mountains. Based on the 2021 photo record from the Cane River, the website editors give a State Rank of S1, but with a Watch List status of W4 -- perhaps not native, but at least of Uncertain Provenance. These "blue wild indigo" species often are planted in yards/gardens and can escape to nearby habitats away from man.
Habitat"Wagon Road Gap, Blue Ridge Parkway, deciduous woods margin" (Transylvania Co.). The Jackson Co. record has no image or label data entered. The Yancey photo record is from a scour zone along a river with many rapids.
PhenologyFlowering May-June.
IdentificationSee Weakley (2018) for a key to australis and relatives. Both species have deep indigo blue to almost violet blue flowers. Habitat and less so range are key features, as B. aberrans occurs in NC on high pH prairie-like barrens and early succession habitats, in dry soil conditions.
Taxonomic CommentsRAB (1968) included B. aberrans within a larger B. australis concept. Most refences do now split these out, as the habitats are very different.

Other Common Name(s)Blue Wild Indigo
State RankSNA [S1]
Global RankG5
State Status[W4]
US Status
USACE-agcpFACU link
USACE-empFACU link
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Becky Elkin and Jim PetrankaYancey County: Cane River at Pensacola; 1 June 2021. YanceyPhoto_natural
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