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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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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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Wednesday - October 20, 2004

From: Butte, MT
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Indian paintbrush wedding
Answered by: Stephen Brueggerhoff

QUESTION:

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; However, I was wondering if you knew who I could talk to about finding out if there is such a thing as a domestic look a like for this flower.

ANSWER:

Indian Paintbrush (botanical: Castilleja sp.) is a robust genera, with around 20 species occurring within your state. I do not know if there is a specialty grower/florist in your region that would be able to cater to your needs. However, this genera is in the Figwort Family (Scrophulariaceae), and you may be able to find a native plant within the family that closely resembles your preferred species of Indian Paintbrush. There are some Penstemon sp. (some red species) that are native to your eco-region, as well as Delphinium sp.; generally, delphinium do not produce the brilliant red flowers with which you are accustomed, but may be a good replacement regarding form. I recommend contacting your local chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society. They will definately be able to provide you with an answer that will come close to your needs. Also, try your local Agricultural Extension agent (Montana Extension Agency) to retrieve input on options for Paintbrush replacements.

 

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