Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Blue wild indigo
Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis)
Blue Wild Indigo is also known as Blue False Indigo.
I remember this growing in the garden between our house and the neighbors, and when I got a house of my own they kindly dug some up for me to plant in my garden, The roots were very tough and strong, I wondered if they would every sprout for me, so planted then just before a thunder storm, on that late summer day. The plant was given to their Mother by the lady she worked for, Mrs Whitmore was her names as I recall, on the occasion of her new house way back in the 1920's, and Mrs Whitmore, as they called it,may still be flourishing there in the same spot. I would like to think so. With in a few years the last of the brothers and sisters were gone and the house has changed hands several times since.
It was amazing to me to see the tall spikes of flowers in the spring, and in the fall to be given a bouquet of the pods which made a pleasing, to me any, sound when I shook them, these were the greatest treasure of fall collecting, which could include milkweed pods, for making birds, acorns, buckeyes and edible chestnuts, hickory nut husks, beechnuts with their odd triangular hulls and anything else that caught our fancy. Gathering stuff to bring to school was a common activity then.
Blue wild Indigo is hardy perennial plant, that because of its tuberlike roots, can tolerate strong sun and some drought. It is also a member of the peas family. It grows well in climatic zones 3 to 8, in well drained lime free soil. it doesn't usually reseed itself.
It was used in place of the expensive indigo dyestuffs by the cherokee and other tribes and the early settlers. Also known as Indigo Weed, Rattleweed, Rattlebush and Horse Fly Weed said to have medicinal; properties, but as with ,most members of the pea family,it is commonly thought to have poisonous foliage. Blue wild indigo is also said to keep away flies and other insects. A leaf is sometimes carried or added to an amulet bag because it is is believe to protect the person who carries it.
I find it charming that this stately plant was gifted to me and at least one other and possibly many others when we first got a new house.