Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Red paint comes in all colors, part 2

with 10 comments

Castilleja purpurea var. citrina Flowers 0016

In the last post you heard that Castilleja purpurea comes in various colors, in spite of the species name purpurea. The yellow strain of prairie paintbrush is classified as Castilleja purpurea var. citrina—think about citrus and in particular lemons.

As was true of the last picture, I took this one along US 84 near the town of Coleman, Texas, on the way back from Lubbock to Austin on April 17th.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 19, 2014 at 6:02 AM

10 Responses

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  1. So I wanted to know if these flowers could be used as paintbrushes; the answer seems to be yes “Various tribes used the flowering parts as a paintbrush.” http://aces.nmsu.edu/pes/lowwaterplants/indian-paintbrush.html


    May 19, 2014 at 6:28 AM

    • That’s good research. Delena Tull notes that “Several native American tribes used various species of paintbrushes for tan to rust-colored dyes….”

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 19, 2014 at 6:44 AM

      • Ah! Now all we need is an example of this artwork. I think that might be a step too far for my research capabilities.


        May 19, 2014 at 7:50 AM

  2. This color looks just as nice as the purple one, but maybe the other one is more eye-catching.


    May 19, 2014 at 7:07 AM

    • The yellow variety is at a disadvantage, especially after rain, because its lighter color more readily reveals specks of dirt and other imperfections. Too bad I didn’t find a more pristine yellow specimen to show you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 19, 2014 at 7:20 AM

  3. […] Most Castilleja species I’ve seen in person or in pictures have had reddish-orange bracts. The closest in color that any central Texas Castilleja species comes to what you see in this photograph is Castilleja purpurea var. citrina. […]

  4. Even though this isn’t a pristine specimen, it’s lovely. I couldn’t quite get my mind around the different names (e.g. C. purpurea var. citrina or C. citrina. I wondered if there had been a change in names, or disagreement about them, and I found this article, which may help to explain why some authors, like Eason, have chosen different names.


    August 8, 2018 at 9:59 PM

    • I’d noticed the name change in Eason, according to which what used to be considered three varieties of the purple species are now treated as three independent species, as explained in your link. Of course the new treatments, though easier for everyone to follow, would have prevented me from titling my three 2014 posts “Red paint comes in all colors.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 8, 2018 at 11:33 PM

      • And that, in my opinion, is the best argument for the way it used to be!


        August 8, 2018 at 11:35 PM

        • Yes, it’d be a shame to ditch a good title. I got it in at the very end of the period when the getting was still good.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 8, 2018 at 11:48 PM

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