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Indian Paintbrush - Castilleja coccinea

Indian Paintbrush - Castilleja coccinea

Castilleja coccinea, or Indian Paintbrush, is a biennial wildflower native to Michigan and the U.P.. This plant is interesting because it is hemiparasitic; it takes part of its nutrients from a host plant, perhaps as an adaptation to the poor soils it favors. The host plant is typically grasses or sedges. Our second-year plants are paired with Little Bluestem. The Indian Paintbrush will not kill the grass, which will persist in your garden. Make sure bare dirt is present around the plant to encourage reseeding of the Indian Paintbrush. Future generations can parasitize the same grass plant.


The showy, reddish orange  flowers of this plant are designed to be pollinated by hummingbirds, but bees and moths, especially those that can drink while hovering, also use the nectar. It is a host plant for several species of Checkerspot butterfly caterpillar. The included Little Bluestem is a host plant for skipper butterflies, creates nest habitat for native bees, and provides seeds and nest materials for birds.


Indian Paintbrush likes moist to medium, sandy or gravely soils, especially near lakes and rivers, but also in fens, meadows, prairies, and open forests, even jack pine. It tolerates shallow soils, rock crevices, and limestone substrates.


I am making this plant available for pre-order, but because it is a new species for us, overwintering success is uncertain. If they don't survive, I'll issue a refund.

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