Indian Paintbrush (Casilleja indivisa)
One of two hundred species of Castilleja, Castilleja indivisi or Indian Paintbrush, located in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Louisiana, is found in open fields and along highways. From a distance, they appear as patches of red in a sea of green or brown. This species has a relatively short blooming season, blooming from late spring into early summer.
Easly spotted along highways in the spring the plant grows to 18 inches tall and has narrow leaves to ¼ inch wide. The “flowers” are a beautiful red color turning to green at the stem.
Most of the color of the plant is not the flower but modified leafs call bracts. These bracts are red, becoming green toward the stem. The shape and color of the upper part resembles a paintbrush dipped in red paint thus the common name Indian Paintbrush.
Another less common species, Yellow Paintbrush (Castilleja purpurea var citrina, found in Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas, has yellow flowers. (see Downy Indian Paintbrush)
The roots of this plant are parasitic, feeding on the roots of other species.