Baptisia alba var. macrophylla

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: white false indigo 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Fabaceae
Native Range: Central North America
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy, Good Dried
Leaf: Colorful
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil

Noteworthy Characteristics

Baptisia alba commonly called white false indigo, is an upright perennial which typically grows 2-3’ tall and occurs in dry woods from Tennessee and North Carolina to Florida. It features small, white, pea-like flowers (to 1/2” long) in erect racemes (to 12”) atop dark flower stems extending well above a foliage mound of clover-like, trifoliate, bluish-green leaves (leaflets to 2” long). Blooms in spring. Flowers give way to inflated seed pods (to 1 3/4” long) which turn brown to black when ripe and have considerable ornamental interest. Stems with seed pods are valued additions to dried flower arrangements.

Baptisia alba var. macrophylla is a Missouri native. It typically grows 2-3' (less frequently to 5') tall and occurs in prairies, open woods, glades, waste areas and along streambanks throughout the State. It is the tallest of the Missouri native baptisias. Features white, lupine-like flowers in erect racemes (to 12") atop flower spikes extending well above a foliage mound of clover-like, trifoliate, bluish-green leaves (leaflets to 3" long). Variety name means large-leafed. Synonymous with Baptisia leucantha and Baptisia lactea.

The genus name Baptisia comes from the Greek word bapto meaning "to dye".

Specific epithet means white.

The common name of false indigo refers to the use of certain native baptisias by early American colonists as a substitutes, albeit inferior, for true indigo (genus Indigofera) in making dyes.


No serious insect or disease problems. Taller plants may need support, particularly when grown in part shade locations. Sensitive to juglone. Tends to perform poorly when planted close to black walnut trees.


Borders, cottage gardens, rock gardens, prairies, meadows and native plant gardens. Effective in naturalized settings. Best as a specimen or in small groups.