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FutureStarrA Castilleja Flower
Castilleja flower or Jack in the pulpit is a mat-forming perennial plant in the genus Castilleja found in the Rocky Mountains and other areas in North America , west of the Great Plains.Castilleja, commonly known as Indian paintbrush or prairie-fire, is a genus of about 200 species of annual and perennial herbaceous plants native to the west of the Americas from Alaska south to the Andes, northern Asia, and one species as far east as the Kola Peninsula in northwestern Russia. These plants are classified in the family Orobanchaceae (following major rearrangements of the order Lamiales starting around 2001; sources which do not follow these reclassifications may place them in the Scrophulariaceae). They are hemiparasitic on the roots of grasses and forbs. The generic name honors Spanish botanist Domingo Castillejo. The flowers of Indian paintbrush are edible, and were consumed in moderation by various Native American tribes as a condiment with other fresh greens. These plants have a tendency to absorb and concentrate selenium in their tissues from the soils in which they grow, and can be potentially very toxic if the roots or green parts of the plant are consumed. Highly alkaline soils increase the selenium levels in the plants. Indian paintbrush has similar health benefits to consuming garlic, though only if the flowers are eaten in small amounts and in moderation.
The roots of this plant will grow until they touch the roots of other plants, frequently grasses, penetrating these "host" roots to obtain a portion of their nutrients. Transplanting paintbrush may kill it. Indian paintbrush has a reputation for being unpredictable. In some years, when bluebonnets (which flower at approximately the same time as Indian paintbrush) are especially colorful, paintbrush will have only an average flowering year. Other years, paintbrush is spectacular. Indian Paintbrush is a species native to western North America from Washington to Baja California, where it grows on hills and mountains slopes along the coast and inland. This is a perennial herb growing an erect stem up to about 60 centimeters in maximum height. It is greenish to purple in color and may be hairless to quite hairy. The leaves are variable in shape and up to 8 centimeters long. The flower cluster is a series of leafs in shades of bright red to yellowish. Flowers appearing between the leafs are a bit longer and covered in hairs. They are green to purple lined with red or yellow. The fruit is a capsule just over a centimeter long. There are three subspecies of this plant (ssp. affinis, ssp. litoralis, & ssp. neglecta). Ssp. affinins (Coast Indian painbrush) occurs commonly throughout western North America from Washington to Baja California. Ssp. litoralis and ssp. neglecta are quite rare. Ssp. littoralis (Oregon Coast paintbrush) grows on the coastline of northern California and Oregon and ssp. neglecta (Tiburon paintbrush) is known from only a few occurrences in and around the San Francisco Bay Area and is a federally listed endangered species. Castilleja is a hemi-parasite, meaning that it derives some of its nutrients from a host plant.
You’ll attract pollinators galore. Because the Indian paintbrush doesn’t have any branches or strong stalks for birds to perch on, they are a favorite food source for hovering pollinators like butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. In fact, they are a preferred nectar source for broad-tailed hummingbirds and a favorite host for Fulvia Checkerspot butterflies, both of which are common in Colorado. The Indian paintbrush (Castilleja) is a native wildflower in the family Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family). It was adopted as Wyoming's State Flower on January 31, 1917. This flower displays various shades of orange, red and sometimes yellow. The Castilleja grows in moist areas, dry areas, and sandy prairies. Its zones range from 3 to 9. The seeds of the Indian Paintbrush usually germinate in the fall and bloom the next spring without pre-treatment. The plant prefers full sun and / or small amounts of shade. The Indian paintbrush has the ability to grow and survive in serpentine soils, which most species are not equipped to handle the stressful amounts of high magnesium, low calcium and overloaded amounts of metals such as chromium and nickel. The height of the Indian paintbrush ranges from 1 to 2 feet tall. (Source: aces.nmsu.edu)