Sunday, May 26, 2013

Paintbrush Politics

According to historians, the Indian paintbrush barely made it to Wyoming state- flowerhood. When the Indian paintbrush was nominated nearly a century ago, legislators, botanists, school children, and the Daughters of the American Revolution debated the merits of the controversial wildflower.

It seems that, while undeniably lovely, Castilleja linariaefolia was  hemiparasitic (partially living off the roots of other plants) and, as such, tricky to propagate or transplant. In addition, the Indian paintbrush sported too many difficult-to-distinguish varieties and was less prevalent than its closest runner-up, the fringed gentian. The record is unclear as to which political party was pro-paintbrush and anti-gentian.

After its defeat in 1916, the fringed gentian apparently forsook Wyoming for more politically welcoming states. According to the USDA PLANTS Profile, the fringed gentian grows in many northern and eastern states, but not Wyoming!

Indian paintbrush seen on yesterday's hike

“You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers.” –PSALM 30:11 (MSG)

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