white false indigo

Baptisia alba var. macrophylla (white false indigo) is an important plant for supporting insects in the perennial garden. Small, white, lupine-like flowers are borne on erect racemes that extend above the mounded foliage.

White false indigo attracts and hosts numerous insect. Bumblebees are attracted to and are primary pollinators of the flowers. The foliage of white false indigo often hosts a large number of caterpillars, including the wild indigo duskywing and orange sulfur caterpillars. Even the seed pods of white false indigo play host to an insect, the wild indigo weevil.

Plants in the garden setting grow up to 1.5 m (4 ft.) tall with a 1m (3 ft.) spread, performing best in full-sun although plants are tolerant of partial-shade. White false indigo is a deep-rooted plant and, therefore, is drought tolerant and will perform well in even poor soils. This plant is best grown in USDA Zones 3-9. This member of the Fabaceae family is native to the prairies and open woodlands throughout eastern North America, including Illinois.

White false indigo grows in an upright, mounded habit producing small bluish-green trifoliate leaves that give plants a shrub-like appearance. After blooming bean-like seed pods appear that transition from green to brown and black through late summer and fall; ripened seed pods often persist throughout winter months. White false indigo is a true year-round performer in the garden.

Botanical Name Baptisia alba var. macrophylla
Common Name white false indigo
Family Fabaceae
USDA Zone 3 to 9
Light Requirement Full Sun or Part Shade
Season(s) of interest Summer, Fall, Winter
Height and Spread
2-4ft x 2-2.5ft (60-120cm x 60-75cm)
Flower Color White
Attracts Wildlife
Butterflies, Bees, and Other Pollinators, Hosts Butterflies/Moths
Additional Information
Native to US Midwest, Interesting Seed Pods and Plant Structure Persist Into Winter
Location in Lurie Garden West Meadow, East Meadow