En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Avoiding planting Indian Paintbrush in Hawaii because of invasiveness

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Thursday - March 01, 2007

From: Van Alstyne, TX
Region: Hawaii
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Avoiding planting Indian Paintbrush in Hawaii because of invasiveness
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

My daughter is living in Hilo, Hawaii. For her birthday, her boyfriend ordered her some Indian Paintbrush seeds. Trying to be sure she grows them correctly in a pot, she found instructions that say Paintbrush needs a "host plant" to be successful. What would be a good host plant for her to use? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Parasitic plants come in several flavors. Among them, there are obligate parasites, which must parasitize a host plant in order to survive and receives all of its nourishment from the host plant. These plants typically lack chlorophyll. There are facultative parasites which will opportunistically parasitize a host plant given a chance, but can survive and complete its life-cycle without a host. These plants are often called hemiparasites or hemiparasitic plants.

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja spp.) is typical of this group of plants. It can and will parasitize neighboring plants via root connections if living in close proximity, but will also grow and reproduce on its own if no host plant is available. The various species of Indian Paintbrush native to Texas often parasitize plants of the grass family (Poaceae), but they really aren't particularly picky about who their hosts are and will attach themselves to and draw nutrients from any number of plant species. Indian Paintbrushes growing with the assistance of a host plant will almost invariably outgrow a sibling without such benefits. Likewise, a host plant parasitized by a Castilleja will normally suffer quite noticably.

One species, Castilleja arvensis, native to Mexico, Central and South America has naturalized in Hawaii where it is found in association with, and parasitizing the Hawaiian native plant Dubautia scabra. Ecologists consider it invasive in Hawaii. Other Indian Paintbrush species could be similarly ill-mannered in the Hawaiian paradise.

We would urge your daughter to exercise great care and help protect the fragile Hawaiian ecosystem by ensuring her non-native species does not escape from cultivation. She can do this by using her flowering Indian Painbrush stems for cut-flowers and never allowing them to make seeds, or she could simply choose to not plant the seed at all and avoid the risk. After all, no one wants to be the source of an ecological disaster.

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Groundcovers for Kingsland TX
October 11, 2012 - I am looking for a list of native ground covers and grasses(not lawn grass).
view the full question and answer

How to Control Pests on Plants for Sale
May 15, 2014 - I am renting a closed spot at a flea market, and am having trouble with several infestations at once, and I am not sure how to control them. I am currently having trouble with aphids, whiteflies, and ...
view the full question and answer

Small plants for space between stones on a path
November 03, 2007 - We've just installed a stone path (unmortared) near our house and are looking for plants/seeds that would do well in the gaps between the flagstones. Naturally they need to be very low growing and h...
view the full question and answer

Indian paintbrush wedding
October 20, 2004 - I live in western Montana and have become quite fond of the flower known as indian paintbrush. I will be getting married this next July, and would like to incorporate the flower into my wedding; Howe...
view the full question and answer

Destruction of Straggler Daisy in Austin
December 18, 2011 - I hate Straggler Daisy. Not to be offensive, but it appears from other posts on this site that you, Mr. Smarty Plants, and many others would like to treat it as a protected species. It is taking over ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center