July 8th - Photo
Of The Week...
Taken on Saturday morning this week's photo features some beautiful Indian Paintbrush growing along CO 43, west of Glen
Haven in northern Colorado.
Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja) is a rare plant in the world. Indian paintbrushes grow in the cooler portions of North and Central America, Asia, and the Andes. The plants, uppermost leaves display dazzling colors. Paintbrush comes in white, magenta, purple, deep red, pale orange, and yellow, too. The color of this plant is mainly on the leaf bracts. The actual flowers are hidden beneath the red-tipped leaves. There are over two-hundred species of Indian Paintbrush in Western North America. The species featured in the photo is Castilleja linariaefolia.
The plants, uppermost leaves display brilliant colors and are more eye-catching than their flowers, which are interspersed among the leaves. The Indian Paintbrush has a number of erect stems, about four inches to two feet tall (depending upon how much water the host plant gets) with a brightly colored red-orange 'head' on each stem that reminds one of a flaming paintbrush.
The leaves are narrow and undivided. The upper leaves may be dived into three to five very narrow lobes depending on the growth and maturity. Sandy prairies, mountains up to ten thousand feet, dry desert areas or places where there is some kind of water seepage, is where you'll find the Indian Paintbrush. It takes advantage of the dry, sterile soil conditions, and tries to remain near a water source. If not, it will attach itself to a plant that is capable of supplying
it with water.
It is a perennial herb and blooms early spring to early summer. If someone was to plant the Indian paintbrush or try to propagate it near their home they
need to consider that Paintbrush must have native plants to help them grow because they rely on them for water. For this reason it is a very hard task to undertake. The Navajos used these plants for medicinal purposes such as a contraceptive or to decrease the menstrual cycle. Indian Paintbrush is not recommended for home landscaping.