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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. Indian paint brush, also called Painted Cup, Painted Lady, orPaint Brush, any plant of the genus Castilleja (family Scrophulariaceae), which contains about 200 species of partially or wholly parasitic plants that derive nourishment from the roots of other plants. For this reason the plants are seldom cultivated successfully in the flower garden. The small, tubular flowers are irregular (two-lipped). They are surrounded by upper leaves that are brightly coloured either throughout or at the ends only, giving the plant an appearance of having been dipped in a pot of red, orange, yellow, pink, or white paint. 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.
Description: Seed in open, sunny sites for best results. Indian paintbrush seed may require a cold wet period in the winter to germinate. Plant the seed in the fall and rake it into loose topsoil to ensure good seed/soil contact. Seeds are exceptionally small (4 million seeds per pound), commercially available, depending on the previous yearï¿½s seed crop and can be expensive. The recommended seeding rate in 1/4 pound per acre. (Source: www.wildflower.org)