Wildflower of the Week by Chick Keller

This week’s wildflower is known and loved by many—Indian paintbrush (Castilleja integra).  It is found most often among Piñons and Junipers, but extends upwards into the Ponderosa.  

Paintbrushes are a strange group, relying on other plants for sustenance and having unique flowering parts.  In fact most of the red ‘petals’ are actually leaves surrounding the actual flower which is green.  Los Alamos has four species of paintbrush, the others growing at ever higher altitudes and later in the summer.  We also have a yellow one!

There is some confusion about how to pronounce its name which is actually that of a Spanish botanist (see below for information about him) and thus is pronounced kas tee yay ha.
Photo by Chick Keller
Photo by Chick Keller

From Wikipedia: 

Domingo Castillejo (died 1786) was a Spanish botanistsurgeon, and professor. From 1770 to 1786, he served as a professor of materia medica and botany at the Royal Naval College of Surgery in Cádiz, during which time his studies were devoted to the flora of the southern Iberian Peninsula.[1][2][3] Among the many positions he held during this time was Cádiz correspondent for the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid; in this position he received many new plants imported from the New World, and acclimatized them for distribution to other nurseries throughout Spain and the Canary Islands.[4]

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