Restoring Glade Blue Wild Indigo at Penny’s Bend

Glade blue wild indigo seedlings sit in trays as Garden staff and interns prepare to plant them in the background

This week, Garden staff and interns joined Duke environmental management master’s student Lydie Costes at Penny’s Bend Nature Preserve to plant 750 seedlings of glade blue wild indigo (Baptisia aberrans) for restoration. This rare wildflower grows in just a few scattered prairies and woodlands over limestone and diabase rock in the southeastern U.S., including at Penny’s Bend in Durham. Fire suppression – and the resulting loss of historical prairies – is one of the biggest threats to its survival.

Our conservation department has led the effort to restore the southern slope of Penny’s Bend to a Piedmont savanna, the habitat many of the rare species there need to survive. First, we cleared loblolly pines not original to the site, and then a recent controlled burn readied the ground for planting. These glade blue wild indigo seedlings, which Lydie propagated from seeds collected on site as part of her master’s project, are the first wildflower plantings.

In the fall, with support from the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation, we’ll be planting a further 10,000 seedlings of native plants for restoration and pollinators at Penny’s Bend. Stay tuned as the work unfolds!