Baptisia’s Little Cousin – Shunned by the Masses

A few years ago, we propagated and offered what we think is a really cool native perennial, closely related to baptisia, Orbexilum psoralioides. That experiment was a flame out, as sales were some of the worst we’ve ever experienced. We dumped most of the crop, but planted several in the garden, where we continue to grow them today. The photo below is our patch in flower today. They grow similar to a baptisia, but smaller in all parts, and flower about six weeks after most baptisias have finished. These genetics are from a population about 30 minutes from JLBG.

Orbexilum, formerly Psoralea psoralioides, ranges from Illinois south to the Gulf Coast and west to Texas. It’s quite easy to grow, so perhaps the name just frightened people away. It’s really disappointing for us when we track down a great new plant, get it photographed and propagated, and then no one is willing to give it a try. Perhaps the box stores just make it much too easy to all buy the same, cookie-cutter plants so that all our gardens look the same. Unfortunately, the pollinator need much more diversity than you’ll usually find at these venues. Hardiness is Zone 6a-9b, at least.

Orbexilum psoralioides ‘Nash’

14 thoughts on “Baptisia’s Little Cousin – Shunned by the Masses”

  1. Lowrie Glasgow

    Familiar genus and species names seem to draw (me) to plants, and this is branding. That is one of many reasons to read this blog and learn what is out there. Thanks.

  2. I would love to have this and sorry I didn’t see it. I have many native and improved natives and baptisias. This is lovely.

  3. Now that pollinators are all the rage, perhaps you should give it anothe try? Psoralea psoralioides? what an awful name. Give it a better name.
    “Small Baptisia Cousin”, “An exciting new relative for those who want a smaller Baptisia”?, “Fabulous native pollinator”, reuse this fabulous photo, and offer it again.
    And if it doesn’t require FULL sun, even better..

    1. I’m a sucker for continuing to offer plants that I love, but don’t sell well. As our friend/nurseryman Bob McCartney likes to say, “We have the market cornered for all plants for which there is no market.” We also have to be judicious with our space, as we have quite a few staff members who expect a paycheck. In 3 years of offering this, we sold less than 100 plants total. Perhaps in a few more years, I’ll forget what a financial flop it was and try again.

  4. I’d buy this. Perhaps you’d try this again and tout it as one of Tony’s favorites. I always check those out. for something unusual.

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