Plants and Animals

Baptisia lactea White or prairie false indigo

species photo
TNC Staff
species photo
TNC Staff
species photo
Daniel C. Nepstad
species photo
Daniel C. Nepstad
species photo
Daniel C. Nepstad
species photo
Daniel C. Nepstad
species photo
Steve Grund

Key Characteristics

Large perennial forb (up to 1.5 m) of prairies, savannas, and woodland; stems leafy, branching, and hairless, often blue-gray in color, bearing compound leaves with 3 small elliptic leaflets; flowers white; fruit an ovoid pod 2-3 cm long.

Status and Rank

US Status:
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G4Q - Apparently secure. Questionable taxonomy that may reduce conservation priority
State Rank: S3 - Vulnerable

Occurrences

CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Allegan11981
Berrien102015
Branch31996
Calhoun92016
Cass41987
Clinton11928
Eaton11893
Hillsdale11902
Ingham21928
Jackson52014
Kalamazoo192015
Kent11880
Lenawee11924
Monroe11924
Oakland12003
Shiawassee11928
St. Clair11912
St. Joseph212017
Van Buren42017
Washtenaw22015

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

Occurs in dry to mesic prairies and savannas, dry open roadsides, along railroads, and in fencerows. Most records consist of a few plants.

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, bur oak, bitternut hickory, pignut hickory, shagbark hickory, leadplant, butterfly weed, big bluestem, little bluestem, cordgrass, prairie coreopsis, wild geranium, pale-leaved sunflower, false boneset, smooth sumac, rosin weed, yellow-pimpernel, hoary vervain, prairie violet, golden alexanders, prairie dock, rattlesnake master, and poverty oat grass.

Management Recommendations

Protect habitat and hydrological and natural disturbance regimes. This species likely requires natural disturbances associated with prairie habitat such as fire or brush removal to prevent woody plant succession. Significant increases in vegetative and reproductive vigor have been observed following early spring and fall burns; late spring burns and summer can damage plants. Much of this habitat type has been lost or severely degraded. Many prairie remnants are vulnerable to common right-of-way maintenance activities such as mowing, herbiciding, and bulldozing.

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 first week of July to fourth week of August

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.