The name “lead plant” apparently came from the outdated belief that this plant grew in places where lead was in the ground, indicating that metal’s presence. Maybe the association arose from the grayish look of the hairy foliage.
The flowers of lead plant are tiny and massed in tight, elongated spikes. The stamens have reddish filaments and yellow anthers and protrude from the flowers. The lavender or purple corolla is reduced to a single, top petal.
A common native prairie legume, long-bracted wild indigo flowers April–June, while the surrounding vegetation is still short. Its racemes of creamy-white pea flowers mature into oval pods with tapering beaks.
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