White Wild Indigo Senescent

by Carl Strang

Most prairie plants are readily found in winter. After all, where is a prairie plant going to go? Well, there are exceptions, and the white wild indigo is one of them. By mid-January their tops are gone from where they grew, the result of an active abscission process that releases them from the persistent roots.

Here is white wild indigo in bloom.

Here is white wild indigo in bloom.

Those flowers produce seed pods which remain attached, and it is thought that when the plant top comes loose it can be blown over the ground and scatter seeds from the split pods. As the plant senesces in autumn, it becomes an unusual blue-gray color.

Senescent top. White wild indigo also grows in savannas.

Senescent top. White wild indigo also grows in savannas.

The color change is progressive, the leaves first turning a peculiar shade of green.

Here is a branch in mid-change.

Here is a branch in mid-change.

White wild indigo is a most unusual and remarkable legume.

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