Tuesday, June 3, 2014 —The last week of May I walked through the woods near my home in Westwood and saw that Indian Paintbrush are in bloom. When I see them each spring, I am reminded of my grandmother who would often display small bouquets of wildflowers in a juice glass or vase.
During her visits to Latrobe in the foothills of El Dorado County where I was raised, we would explore the countryside each spring to see what was in bloom. She would ask us to name the wildflowers, which we would identify as scrambled eggs, popcorn, itchy-britches, etc. She liked to hear the local names for the flowers, which often were in reference to what the plants looked like or what resulted when you came in contact with them … such as itching.
I did a quick Internet search to learn a little more about the Indian Paintbrush and found its correct name is Castilleja, which honors Spanish botanist Domingo Castillejo. It grows throughout western North America from April to September and is a hemiparasite, which means it needs a host plant to survive. The species must penetrate the root system of its host to get nutrients and water.
This time of year the landscape is a myriad of color with fields of orange, yellow or purple flowers that frequently make us stop for a second look. Most often we have admiration without much information. Do you ever wonder just exactly what you are looking at?
For the full My Turn and others, read the Tuesday, June 3, 2014 edition of the Lassen County Times.