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

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Monday - February 05, 2007

From: Norwalk, CT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Castillea indivisa as Texas native Indian Paintbrush
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Upon researching the Texas Indian-Paintbrush I have satisfactorially come up with the latin name Castilleja foliolosa, funny thing is on the plants.usda.gov site it shows that this plant grows native in California not Texas. However, upon looking up Entireleaf Indian Paintbrush(USDA site) aka Texas Paintbrush, Scarlet paintbrush (Lady Bird Johnson site) On the USDA site it shows that this plant grows native in Texas and a few surrounding states. It's curious that the Castilleja foliolosa is not called the California Indian-Paintbrush. After hours of tail-chasing to find the true Texas Indian-Paintbrush that grows native to Texas this is my government backed conclusion. Maybe, only a Texan knows the truth.

ANSWER:

Maybe not. Nine species of Indian-paintbrush are native to Texas. The two species most widely ranging and most common in Texas are Castilleja indivisa and Castilleja purpurea. By all rights, either could claim the name Texas Indian-paintbrush. In reality, Castilleja indivisa really is commonly known as Texas Indian-paintbrush - as well as by other names - while Castilleja purpurea is more commonly referred to as Plains Indian-paintbrush or Downy Indian-paintbrush.

After considerable effort, it is still a mystery to us why the California native, Castilleja foliolosa would be called Texas Indian-paintbrush. Some Texans might say it's wishful thinking. While we don't know now, we're not giving up - Texans don't quit. When we discover the answer to the mystery, we'll publish it here.

 

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