Baptisia australis – Blue False Indigo
Baptisia australis – Blue False Indigo

Wild Indigo Duskywing / Eastern Tailed-Blue / Orange Sulphur / Clouded Sulphur / Frosted Elfin / Hoary Edge

Blue spikes of pea-shaped flowers resemble the tall racemes of lupines in May and early June. A slow to mature, but very rewarding native garden perennial. Found in open woods, river banks and sandy floodplains, New York to Nebraska to Georgia.

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Dalea purpurea – Purple Prairie Clover
Dalea purpurea – Purple Prairie Clover

Host Plant – Sulphurs

Tiny rose-purple flowers in cylindrical, head-like masses at ends of upright wiry stems.

This is one of the most widespread of the perennial Prairie Clovers, identifiable by their cone-like flower heads. An excellent range species, with high protein content, Purple Prairie Clover decreases in abundance with overgrazing. A midwestern white-flowering species, White Prairie Clover has elongated flower heads and is only 2 (60 cm) tall. A white-flowering southeastern coastal plain species, D. carnea var. albida, has conspicuous green bracts within the heads.

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Senna hebecarpa – Wild Senna
Senna hebecarpa – Wild Senna

Host Plant – Sulphur, Clouded Sulphur, Orange Sulphur

Wild Senna is a versatile plant that we think deserves more recognition as a great choice for garden or restoration projects. Its lovely, bright yellow flowers bloom July-August, attracting many bees and butterflies. Autumn brings beautiful leaf colors and the formation of long black pods with seeds favored by larger birds like wild turkeys. A horizontal root system provides strength against winds, allowing the plant’s stately (4-6′) beauty to be appreciated even after the storm. Some gardeners use this sun-loving plant to form a hedge.

It is virtually indistinguishable from its relative, Maryland Senna (Senna marilandica) until the two species have ripe seeds. The Wild Senna will readily open its pod and the seeds will fall out, whereas the Maryland Senna seed pods will stay tightly closed.  Other than this, it is very hard to tell the two species apart.

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