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FutureStarrA Where Do Indian Paintbrush Flowers Grow
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.
A hemiparasitic plant is one that its roots seek out those of host plants, usually grasses, and tap into them for nutrition (see Germination Code K). If you will be starting Indian Paintbrush in a container, good hosts for many hemiparasitic species include low-growing grasses and sedges like Blue Grama, Juncus species, Buffalo Grass, Pennsylvania Sedge, Sweet Grass, and June Grass. With a knife make a 2" deep cut at the base of the host plant. Sow seed in the cut, making sure seed is not more than 1/8" deep. If host is transplanted at sowing time, the cut is not needed because damaged roots will be available for attachment by the parasite. You may also try sowing hemiparasitic and host species seeds together at the same time. To add hemiparasitic species to existing sites, scatter seed on soil surface (rake in if seed is large) in late fall.DISCLAIMER: Our 3-Pack potted plants of Indian Paintbrush with Common Rush (Juncus effusus) are experimental. Indian Paintbrush and Common Rush seedlings were transplanted together into a single pot because Indian Paintbrush is hemiparasitic and can benefit from a host plant. Although we have had previous success with this method, we cannot guarantee the root systems of the two species are attached. Due to the specialized nature of this 3-Pack, we cannot offer replacements or refunds. Indian Paintbrush is an annual or biennial; for the best chance of re-seeding, plant in a sunny, open area with little competition (Source: www.prairiemoon.com)