Why Indian paintbrush turned yellow/white |Daphne Richards

Why Indian paintbrush turned yellow/white |Daphne Richards


Hi, I’m Daphne Richards and this is Augie Our question this week comes from Betty and
David who sent us this beautiful photo of a field of Indian paintbrush on their
property. And they’d like to know why these normally red flowers occasionally show up in different colors.
Well with all the recent flap over marroon bluebonnets showing up on the University
of Texas campus here in Austin you might already know the answer. Like
all living organisms that reproduce sexually, wildflowers have genes from two
different parents, each with their own unique characteristics. And some others
characteristics are dominant while others are recessive If the recessive trait gets passed on to
the offspring from both parents, that trait will be
visible. But usually the dominant trait gets passed on from
at least one parent so the recessive trait doesn’t get expressed And in castilleja, or Indian paintbrush,
red is the dominant floral color But we asked Damon Waitt at the Lady Bird
Johnson Wildflower Center about this, and he told us that there are
also light yellow and even white flowering variants of this
plant in nature. Perhaps if there were a maroon flowering variant, one of my Aggie
horticulture colleagues would have collected and propagated it by
now, like we did with the marroon blue bonnet Or perhaps if there were a deep
burnt orange variant an alum from my botanical cohort at
UT Austin might have done so as well But alas, castilleja is not our state
flower and so producing unique cultivars of it is not a task that anyone’s yet taken on But if you wanted to, you’d need to scour
the fields each year and find any color variants that you were
interested in. Then make sure that the flowers were not cross pollinated by any
the nearby normal red ones perhaps even encouraging self
pollination. And then return later to collect those seeds and steal them away to plant and
propagate in a greenhouse where you can be more protective of their promiscuity. There are a few other
details about this wildflower that might make you think twice about
taking on this task Not only does it have a hard seed coat
requiring very specific climatic conditions to germinate, it’s also a hemiparasite and that
means that Indian paintbrush has to be planted near
certain other host species plants or it won’t grow Bluebonnets are just one host species for
castilleja which is why you often see them going
together in wildflower meadows Some of our native prairie grasses and sedges also serve as host species. So you see,
isolating and producing all the wonderful plants that we have
available for our modern gardens is not as easy as it may seem. Our plant
this week is fall aster, one of our great Central Texas natives.
As its name implies it flowers in the fall, but spring is the
best time to plant. The flowers are a delicate the blue/purple with yellow
button centers Bees just love this plant and it serves
as a crucial source of nectar for them in the fall when very little else may be blooming.
Fall aster usually stays less than two feet tall and about as wide, growing into a small
mound. It looks great planted in the foreground and along the
edges a planting beds Fall aster is a hardy perennial and has
no trouble at all with our winters here in Central Texas Giving them a good shearing in the spring
reinvigorates growth and makes the plants bushier and healthier.
It also encourages more flowers The aromatic leaves of fall aster are little
pungent, and although nothing is deer-proof their scent makes this plant deer-resistant. Fall asters prefer well-drained soil and need very little water once
established. To do in your garden this week, consider planting some heat loving
annuals like marigold or zenia into containers or in any bare spots in
your garden. We love to hear from you so please visit us at klru.org/ctg to send us your pictures and questions

One Comment

  • Jody Reeder says:

    HELLO FROM ADA, OKLAHOMA, hope your in good spirits.I'm researching the topic of Indian paint brush's, however not what I'm looking for. I'm trying to find out how to harvest seed, of course would like to know more of what other flowers can help boost germination percentage.
    BTW, I'm also looking bee friendly plants too, ty.

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