AIndian Castilleja

AIndian Castilleja

Indian Castilleja

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.

Also called painted cup and Indian blanket. Botanists have been busy with the new information coming from molecular research. The traditional figwort family of penstemons, snapdragons, and others (Scrophulariaceae) has been "disintegrated" into several new, smaller families, and many former "scrophs" have been transferred into other, existing families. Indian paintbrush is now grouped with the broomrapes in the Orobanchaceae.Indian paintbrush has hairy, upright stems with flowers clustered at the top. The actual flowers are inconspicuous, tubular, greenish-yellow, and nestled in the axils of the brilliantly colored bracts, which can be red, orange, or yellow. Blooms April–July. Basal leaves formed during first year, short, oblong, with rounded ends. Stem leaves alternate, stalkless, narrow to linear to 3-lobed with the central lobe wider and longer than the other 2. Both leaf types are very hairy. (Source: mdc.mo.gov)


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