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Baptisia tinctoria (Horseflyweed)
Muller, Thomas L.

Baptisia tinctoria

Baptisia tinctoria (L.) R. Br.

Horseflyweed, Yellow Wild Indigo

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Synonym(s): Baptisia gibbesii, Baptisia tinctoria var. crebra, Baptisia tinctoria var. projecta


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Smooth, bushy perennial with numerous few-flowered, elongated terminal clusters of yellow pea-like flowers.

Widely distributed, Wild Indigo often increases in burnt fields. Some 15 other species are found in eastern North America, including numerous yellow species farther south and some white or creamy ones. Blue False Indigo (B.australis), which has upright racemes of blue flowers and sap that turns purple when exposed to air, has escaped from cultivation northward to New York and Vermont. The genus name, from the Greek baptizein ("to dye"), refers to the fact that some species are used as an inferior substitute for true indigo dye.


From the Image Gallery

11 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Legume
Leaf: Gray-Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: ON
Native Distribution: Across southeastern Canada; from New England south to Florida; west to Louisiana; north to Minnesota.
Native Habitat: dry open woods and clearings, sandy acidic soil

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Loam, Sand


Use Medicinal: Root tea used as emetic and purgative, cold tea to stop vomiting. Poultice of the root was used for toothaches, to allay inflammation; wash used for cuts, wounds, bruises and sprains. (Foster & Duke) Root steeped in water used as antiseptic wash for wounds (Weiner)
Warning: This plant is poisonous if ingested, although no fatalities have been recorded. Low toxicity if ingested. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. Toxic Principle: Baptisin and cytisine.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Frosted Elfin
(Callophrys irus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Wild Indigo Duskywing
(Erynnis baptisiae)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1207 - Earth Medicine, Earth Food (1990) Michael A. Weiner
Bibref 417 - Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America (2000) Foster, S. & J. A. Duke
Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Baptisia tinctoria in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Baptisia tinctoria in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Baptisia tinctoria


Record Modified: 2021-01-28
Research By: TWC Staff

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