Mud, rock, and poison ivy.
That’s what I stepped into and on and over and around one recent morning, down by the Potomac, while trying to photograph wild blue indigo (Baptisia australis, Fabaceae).
As I wrote around this time last year, I saw flower buds in this stand of plants in 2014, but then there was a bit of a flood and the plants were wiped out. Then, in 2015, I totally missed seeing the flowers, though I did see the seedpods.
I wasn’t going to miss it three years in a row. Despite an extraordinarily rainy May I’ve trudged out to this area about once a week, then every day or two as I saw the buds developing. The river is running really high, lapping at the rocks where the plants are growing, but it hasn’t covered them yet, though as it turns out the bedrock terraces of the Potomac gorge are exactly the habitat this species loves, so the occasional flood doesn’t bother it at all.
Wild blue indigo is listed as S2/threatened in Maryland, so finding a big, healthy stand is kinda special. (It’s also threatened in Indiana and endangered in Ohio.) Mostly wild blue indigo grows in Oklahoma and Kansas, with a few occurrences in nearby parts of Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri. According to BONAP’s North American Plant Atlas, it is present but rare in about a dozen states east of the Mississippi River.