Monday, July 19, 2010

In search of Baptisia perfoliata

The first two pics show Baptisia perfoliata in its native habitat, in this case the sandhills of South Carolina, where it resembles a somewhat stressed out sparse blue eucalyptus bush. Where I found it a week ago it grew among cacti and white flowered Polygonella americana, the latter being an attractive plant which is very common to the point of weedy in sandy areas down South. I managed to get a decent amount of seed from the wild Baptisia plants I found, once I figured out where the brown inflated seedpods were (see photo). The pods are hard to break into, and many are infested with a small species of weevil, which reduces the usual 6 or 7 or so seeds per pod down to 1 or 2 or even none. I will try and start some before summer's end so I can get some plants going for the new sandy area I am creating in my school garden extension.
The last two pics show the garden potential of this species, both were taken at Plant Delights in Raleigh, NC during my last visit earlier this month. Here, under better conditions than it gets in the wild, plants grow larger and more lush, and show no signs of drought stress. Like its gorgeous and rare cousin B. arachnifera, B. perfoliata creates a unique focal point in a garden, with its large size and unusual stem and leaf color and architecture.


kintgen said...

Ernie I grew this for a while at DBG and then lost it. Love the more unsual Baptisia

Rachel Parks said...

Thank you for the info! Your description really helped with identifying this plant. I'm having a friend collect the seed pods for me this summer, would love to try it at my home Garden!