Plants and Animals

Baptisia leucophaea Cream wild indigo

species photo
Susan R. Crispin
species photo
Brad Slaughter

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

US Status:
State Status: E - Endangered (legally protected)
Global Rank: G4G5T4T5
State Rank: S1 - Critically imperiled

Occurrences

CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Cass21988
Kalamazoo41953

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.

Habitat

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.

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.

Management Recommendations

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

Survey Methods

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

  • Meander search

    • Survey Period: From third week of May to fourth week of July

References

Survey References

  • Elzinga, C.L., D.W. Salzer, and J.W. Willoughby. 1998. Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations. The Nature Conservancy and Bureau of Land Management, Denver. BLM Technical Reference 1730-1. 477pp.
  • Goff, G.F., G.A. Dawson, and J.J. Rochow. 1982. Site examination for Threatened and Endangered plant species. Environmental Management 6(4): 307-316
  • Nelson, J.R. 1984. Rare Plant Field Survey Guidelines. In: J.P. Smith and R. York. Inventory of rare and endangered vascular plants of California. 3rd Ed. California Native Plant Society, Berkeley. 174pp.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1986. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques For Impact Assessment. Natural Areas Journal 5(3):18-30.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1987. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques for Impact Assessment. In: Conservation and management of rare and endangered plants. Ed. T.S. Elias. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento. 8pp.

Technical References

  • Gleason, H. A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second edition. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 910pp.
  • Gray, A. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany; eighth ed. Van Nostrand Reinghold, New York. 1632pp.
  • Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the vascular plants of Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 937pp.
  • Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region, 4th ed. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis. 921pp.
  • Voss, E. G. 1985. Michigan Flora. Part II. Dicots (Saururaceae-Cornaceae). Bulletin of the Cranbrook Institute of Science and University of Michigan Herbarium. 724pp.