Castilleja integra

Foothills Paintbrush - Castilleja integra
Near Reid-Armer Spring, Black Range, New Mexico, USA

We found this Castilleja integra, Foothills Paintbrush (a.k.a. Southwestern Indian Paintbrush, Squawfeather, and Wholeleaf Indian Paintbrush), while conducting our spring survey of the Reid-Armer Spring.  Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness reports it as the most common Indian Paintbrush at middle elevations in the Black Range (Pinyon/Juniper and Ponderosa ecosystems).  

There are two subspecies of this plant, we have the nominate form here.  It is found in Texas, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico.  The other subspecies, C. i. gloriosa, is found in Arizona.  The range of this species in the United States and Canada is shown to the right.

Paintbrushes are parasitic.  Their roots will grow until they encounter the roots of another plant, at which point they will parasitize that plant.  This species will often parasitize grasses.  It is because of this “relationship” that paintbrushes transplant so poorly.

The indigenous peoples used this species as a medicine, as a dye, and as a food preservative.

In these photographs the flower, the small green tube surrounded by the red bracts, is clearly visible. 

Asa Gray first described this specimen in 1858, from a specimen collected by Charles Wright in1852 in the Organ Mountains (just east of present day Las Cruces, New Mexico).  This specimen, and the rest of his collection, was the basis for Asa Wrights “Plantae Wrightianae Texano - Neo Mexicanae - An Account of A Collection of Plants Made By Charles Wright...” published in 1852-3.

Trail 135, Black Range, New Mexico
May 18, 2020

Sawmill Canyon, Black Range
June 4, 2020

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