Castilleja sessiliflora

Downy Paintbrush - Castilleja sessiliflora
East of Hillsboro, New Mexico, USA
Except as noted: August 30, 2016

The spring of 2015 was a good season for wildflowers with many species to wonder at on our afternoon walks.  A good season, in particular, for the Downy Paintbrush (aka Downy Painted Cup, Great Plains Paintbrush, and Great Plains Indian-Paintbrush) - Castilleja sessiliflora.  The specimens shown above were photographed two miles east of Hillsboro, New Mexico, USA, on April 15, 2015.  It is one of the most beautiful plants in the Castilleja (Indian Paintbrush) genus.  Paintbrushes are hemiparasitic.  It was not apparent from the paintbrush’s location what plant it was parasitizing.

The Common English Name of Great Plains Paintbrush is descriptive of its range in the United States and Canada as is seen in the BONAP map to the right.  Light green indicates that the species is native to, and not rare within, the county indicated.  It is also found in the northern parts of Mexico.

The specimen shown below was collected as part of the Mexican Boundary Survey overseen by Major W. H. Emory.

The Menomini Indians macerated the flowers and leaves “in bear grass and used the result as an invigorating hair oil” (Ethnobotany of the Menomini Indians, Huron H. Smith, 1923, p. 53) and the Cheyenne used the flower nectar (The Ethnobotany of the Northern Cheyenne Indians of Montana, Jeffrey A. Hart, 1981, p. 39).

The Downy Paintbrush was first described by Frederick Traugott Pursh, who worked in the eastern United States and Canada from 1799 to 1820.

Immediately above: April 15, 2015, just east of Hillsboro.

The photograph immediately above and the two below
were taken on March 29, 2014, just east of Hillsboro.


© Robert Barnes 2018-2023