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Flaigg, Norman G.
Gaillardia pulchella Foug.
Firewheel, Indian Blanket
USDA Symbol: gapu
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
Firewheel or indian blanket is a popular annual growing 1-2 ft. tall. The hairy stem is usually much-branched and becomes woody at the base late in the season. Branched stems, mostly leafy near the base, have showy flower heads with rays red at base, tipped with yellow, each with 3 teeth at broad end. The well-known flower heads are 1-2 in. across with a red center and a yellow outer band. Occasionally the three-cleft rays are solid orange or yellow. The disk flowers in the center are brownish red.
Frequent along roadsides in the Southwest, these wildflowers stand like hundreds of showy Fourth of July pinwheels at the top of slender stalks. Varieties are popular in cultivation, for they tolerate heat and dryness. Among several species in the Southwest, some flowers are entirely yellow.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Annual Habit: Herb Size Notes:
Green Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red , Yellow , Brown
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: May flower longer if rains are plentiful.
AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , CT , FL , GA , HI , IA , IL , IN , KS , LA , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NE , NH , NM , NV , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI Native Distribution:
W. SD to KS & LA, w. to CO & AZ; naturalized east to the Atlantic states & west to CA. The following native
range is sometimes recognized: Sporadic distribution from NC to FL, w. to SD, CO & AZ; a casual migrant or escape
northeastward. Native Habitat:
Dry plains & open areas, Widespread in calcareous and sandy-calcareous prairies in the western two-thirds of the state. Well-drained sand, loam, calcareous soils. USDA Native Status: L48(N), HI(I), CAN(I)
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Medium Light Requirement:
Sun , Part Shade Soil Moisture:
Dry Soil pH:
Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2) CaCO3 Tolerance:
High Soil Description:
Sandy or calcareous soils, often disturbed places, mostly in grasslands or open places. Conditions Comments:
Indian blanket is a major wildflower of the prairies and meadows. It reseeds readily and is easy to grow; good drainage is the only requirement. Rich soils will produce large, floppy plants with few flowers. Indian blanket is very easy to grow and is commonly used in roadside & meadow plantings. This species is a short-lived perennial
in warm, coastal areas. The bloom period can be prolonged by deadheading and supplemental summer watering.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Wildflower meadow, Color, Long-blooming, Easily grown, Pocket prairie
Use Medicinal: Tea of root for gastroenteritis, chewed powdered root applied to skin disorders. Sore nipples of nursing mothers bathed in tea made from the plant, also used for sore eyes. Kiowa considered it good luck.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Deer Resistant: Moderate
Plant in the fall and rake the seed into loose topsoil to ensure good seed/soil contact. With moisture from rain or watering, G. pulchella will germinate in 1 – 2 weeks and establish a healthy taproot
system before the winter frost. If sowing seed indoors in late winter, allow 8 weeks for well-rooted seedling before transplanting at start of frost-free period. Seed Collection:
After flowering ceases, allow seeds to completely mature before mowing for reseeding or collecting to plant in a new area. Look for heads with no dried petals persisting. Since G. pulchella is an annual,
it is essential that this species be allowed to reseed for an abundant display the following year. Seed Treatment:
Dried seeds can be stored refrigerated up to four years. Commercially Avail:
One of the easiest wildfowers to establish. Although Indian blanket will grow in a variety of soil types, for best results, choose an open to lightly shaded site having loose, well-drained soil. G. pulchella frequently exhibits blanket-like density, which combines with the blending of bright reds and yellows to form a striking tapestry of color.
Find Seed or Plants
Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Grasses and wildflowers for Houston meadow
February 28, 2008
I recently bought a house in a new subdivision just south of Houston -
as with most new developments, the area is devoid of nature for the
most part... I have planted many bird/butterfly/bee fr...
view the full question and answer
Wildlife uses of wildflowers in Central Texas
May 01, 2006
How are wildflowers in Central Texas used by wildlife?
view the full question and answer
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Fredericksburg Nature Center
- Fredericksburg, TXLady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
- Austin, TXSibley Nature Center
- Midland, TXBrackenridge Field Laboratory
- Austin, TXNueces River Authority
- Uvalde, TXStengl Biological Research Station
- Smithville, TXTexas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Austin, TXNative Seed Network
- Corvallis, ORJacob's Well Natural Area
- Wimberley, TXNPSOT - Williamson County Chapter
- Georgetown, TX, TX
Herbarium Specimen(s)NPSOT 0173
Collected Apr. 28, 1991 in Bexar County by Judith C. BerryNPSOT 0213
Collected May 4, 1992 in Comal County by Mary Beth WhiteNPSOT 0666
Collected May 21, 1991 in Bexar County by Harry CliffeNPSOT 0447
Collected Jun 4, 1987 in Bexar County by Harry CliffeNPSOT 0074
Collected Oct. 19, 1990 in Bexar County by Mollie WaltonNPSOT 0011
Collected April 25,1990 in Bexar County by Judith C. BerryNPSOT 0350
Collected May 19, 1993 in Bexar County by Louise Morrell
Wildflower Center Seed BankLBJWC-543
Collected 2007-07-30 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower CenterLBJWC-3
Collected 2006-05-22 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
* Available Online from Wildflower Center Store
Bibref 610 - Edible wild plants of the prairie :
an ethnobotanical guide
(1987) Kindscher, K.
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes
(2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest
(1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region
(2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 281 - Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas
(1999) Diggs, G. M.; B. L. Lipscomb; B. O'Kennon; W. F...
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide
(1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife
(1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender* The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas
(2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country
(1989) Enquist, M.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter 1984 VOL. 1, NO.2
- Lady Bird Finds Wildflower Lovers Everywhere, Center Expands With New Building, ...Wildflower Newsletter 1987 VOL. 4, NO.2
- Wildflowers Provide Activity in Summer, Beautiful Colorado Beckons, What is Rese...Wildflower Newsletter 1987 VOL. 4, NO.4
- Wildflower Center Sows Seeds for the Country, Hotline for Texas, New Goals Plans...Wildflower Newsletter 1997 VOL. 14, NO.4
- Pollination and Pollinators, Big Bugs Exhibit, A Taste of Honey, Executive Direc...
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Record Modified: 2012-12-07
Research By: TWC Staff