Jan Gorman sent me this picture of a beautiful stand of wildflowers she spotted on Spring Creek Highway. This is false yellow indigo (Baptisia sphaerocarpa) also called green indigo, round indigo, yellow baptisia, American indigo, baptisia root, baptista, false indigo, horsefly weed, indigo broom, rattlebush, yellow broom, and yellow indigo.

Yellow indigo is native to the southern US and blooms from May to October in Florida. It is highly attractive to butterflies.

This hardy plant is drought tolerant and grows to a height of two to three feet. It makes a show at the rear of any garden border. It is easily grown in well-drained soil in full sun to part shade, and thrives in poor soils. It is difficult to grow from seed and slow to establish. Over time, plants form slowly expanding clumps with deep and extensive root systems, and should not be disturbed once established. If you must move this plant, early spring is considered to be the best time for transplanting.

There are no common pests or diseases of yellow indigo.

The name Baptista literally means to dip and harkens back to a close relative of yellow indigo, true indigo. Indigo was the first vegetable dye known to have been in use. An indigo-dyed garment dating from about 3000 BC was found in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes; and references to blue in the book of Exodus (25:4 and 35:25) undoubtedly also refer to indigo. India is believed to be the oldest center of indigo dyeing in the Old World. Indigo dye is one of the few plant dyes naturally resistant to fading, and was the original dye used in blue jeans.

Yellow indigo was traditionally reputed to have medicinal qualities and was used in the treatment of influenza, kidney disease, ulcerations of the skin, sore nipples, mucous colitis, amebic dysentery, tonsillitis, quinsy, septic conditions of the blood, muscular soreness, rheumatic and arthritic pains, constriction of the chest, whooping cough, dropsy, epilepsy, nervous disorders, chills, fever, malaria, typhoid fever, scarlet fever, diphtheria, mumps, piles and worms. More recent studies of the plant indicate it is unsafe to consume or apply to the skin in large amounts.