Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja sp.)

An Indain Paintburhs, a red flower with tubular petals, with Phelps lake far away in the distance, tucked between steep mountainous hills

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja sp.)

With over 200 species of Castilleja, this species of Indian Paintbrush is native to the United States. Wyoming’s state flower is specifically Castilleja linariaefolia, but we will focus on the species coccinea. Coccinea refers to the red petals that resemble cup-like structures. When we think of plants, we know they photosynthesize and get their energy from the direct sunlight, but these plants are hemiparasites, meaning that they get some of their nutrients from other organisms as well. Most of the time, they will parasitize the perennial grasses that accompany them (USFS), as well as sagebrush.

Like any other flowering plant, Indian Paintbrush rely on pollinators to help them reproduce year after year. Because of their interesting petal shape, ruby-throated hummingbirds are a great pollinator of the Indian Paintbrush in general, and other members of this genus. Since hummingbirds have the long, slim bill to reach the nectar, they are a perfect pollinator for these tubular-type flowers.

Click here to learn about how the Indian Paintbrush got its name.

Written by Anna Cressman
PC: Anna Cressman