Wild indigo root
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Wholesale Wild indigo root

Baptisia tinctoria
plant overview
true blue wild indigo

Wild indigo root, also called blue wild indigo, is a woody perennial in the legume family found throughout eastern North America. While the plant produces clusters of deep purple flowers that add interest to the landscape, the roots of the plant yield a blue dye that was used by Native Americans and early colonists before it was replaced with “true” indigo (Indigofera tinctoria). In fact, the genus name for this plant, Baptisia, is adapted from the Greek bapto, which means to dye or dip. Wild indigo bark is also traditionally made into tinctures and infusions for topical use, as well as wild indigo root tea. Wild indigo root benefits primarily are as an antiseptic.

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Wild indigo root

A Bit of Botany

a little botanical information on wild indigo

Baptisia tinctoria is a herbaceous perennial plant in the Fabaceae family.

This upright, smooth, shrubby perennial typically reaches heights of 2-3 feet.

Its pea-like flowers are small and bright yellow to cream (growing up to 1/2" long) and are produced in numerous, sparsely-flowered clusters (terminal racemes to 4-5"). These clusters appear on stems extending above a foliage mound of gray-green leaves. These clover-like leaves are stalkless, trifoliate and have leaflets up to 1 inch in length.

Wild indigo blooms in late spring to early summer. Its flowers will give way to small inflated seed pods. These will ripen to black and have some ornamental interest.

common names & nomenclature
Since seeds ripen and rattle around in the pods, the plant species has been given the sometimes common name of rattleweed. Baptisia comes from the Greek word for "dye" and tinctoria comes from the Latin word for "dye". Not surprisingly this is a dye plant which was used as an inferior substitute by early Americans for true indigo (genus Indigofera) in making dyes.

Also known as:
wild indigo, indigo weed, horsefly weed, american indigo, rattlebush, baptisia root, yellow false indigo

Wild Indigo, the blue dye root plant

General Information


Baptisia tinctoria is native to eastern North America, west to Minnesota, and south to Florida. It grows in dry meadows and woodland environments throughout the eastern United states. It also does best and thrives in full sun.

Formulas & Recipes

Wild Indigo root is typically tinctured in alcohol for use topically to address wounds, ulcerationss and other skin irritations. Decoct to make teas and tonics. Wild indigo root may also be easily tinctured.

Wild Indigo Root Tincture

  • Place the wild indigo root in clean container with a good seal
  • Pour vodka about 1 inch over the top
  • Seal and allow to sit in a cool dark place for a couple months
  • When it reaches your preferred intensity, filter out the wild indigo root

Health Benefits

What does wild indigo root do?

The immune-modulating effects of wild indigo root are due to the presence of various polysaccharides, which stimulate the production of macrophages and enhances natural resistance to pathogens. However, this action may be detrimental to people with autoimmune disorders who struggle with chronic inflammation.

Applied topically, wild indigo preparations have an antiseptic effect. The root is also taken internally prepared as tea or tincture. It is traditionally combined with echinacea, goldenseal or Oregon grape root.

Due to the presence of certain isoflavones and polysaccharides, this herb should be used in moderation and not at all during pregnancy or if there is a history of an autoimmune disorder.

Cultivation & Harvesting

considerations for growing and harvesting wild indigo

Wild indigo grows in dry meadows and open woodland environments in full sun.

Prefers a deep, rich, well-drained neutral to slightly acid soil. Grows freely in a loamy soil.

Sow seed as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water and then sown in a cold frame in late winter or early spring. Transplant into individual pots once large enough to handle, plant outside the following spring. Can also take divisions in spring and plant directly into the garden.

Harvest the roots in the fall, dry cut root pieces for later use.

Store dried wild indigo root pieces in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

please be advised: 
Before making any changes to your diet you should always consult with your doctor,
especially if you are pregnant, nursing or have existing conditions.