Indian Paintbrush of a Different Color

By contributing writer Dr. Lisa Bellows, North Central Texas College  
Some of our showiest native wildflowers, paintbrush or Castilleja, include multiple species and often confuse the novice wildflower enthusiast when they see the beautiful red, orange, and yes – yellow, pink, purple, and even white flowers. Our most prolific and common in the region is the orange-red Indian paintbrush or Castilleja indivisa. Also common for our region are the less conspicuous Castilleja purpurea, which are often yellow and purple and commonly called lemon or purple paintbrush.
Typically seen in mass with other plants, Indian paintbrush is a hemiparasitic plant, meaning it is partially parasitic in that it photosynthesizes, producing sugars from light energy but also needs a host plant for survival. Indian paintbrush roots extend until they locate and join with the roots of a neighboring plant, usually a grass. To read more pick up the June issue of North Texas Farm & Ranch.

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