Baptisia leucophaea
Cream wild indigo
Image of Baptisia leucophaea

Photo by Brad Slaughter 

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Key Characteristics

Small perennial forb (40-80 cm) of prairies and open oak barrens; stem branching and hairy, bearing compound leaves with 3 finely hairy, small elliptic leaflets; flowers white; fruit an ovoid pod 2-3 cm long.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: E
  • State Rank: S1
  • Global Rank: G4G5T4T5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Distribution map for Baptisia leucophaea

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Both modern Michigan records are from small openings or on natural borders of dry to dry-mesic forest dominated by black and white oak on loamy sand, with pignut hickory and an understory of sassafras and dogwood. Historically, the species was collected from mesic or dry-mesic prairie roadsides in Kalamazoo County. Reported in the Chicago area as a plant of mesic prairies and dry prairies.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Black oak, white oak, black cherry, sassafras, flowering dogwood, lowbush blueberry, flowering spurge, Pennsylvania sedge, bush-clover, tick-trefoil, Ohio spiderwort, New Jersey tea, rockrose (Helianthemum spp.), and bracken fern.


Likely requires management that maintains openings, and optimal management would include prescribed burns to perpetuate open prairie habitats and forest edges.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgment of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Aug 18, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

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